The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has posted an article with the following statement:
“There has been a call internally for WWE to try and create an African American babyface. The idea is to create him both to attract that demographic and to sell merchandise, similar to the role Rey Mysterio has played with the Latin community.”
Of course this is all hypothetical, but it raises a good question: who exactly would they promote as a top babyface of African American-descent? Is there someone on the outside looking in, hoping to get their name out there or is it an established wrestler that could possibly make a face-turn and embrace the crowd? In my opinion, there are a few wrestlers currently on the roster that intrigue me. Some heels that have the potential to be a great face and some faces that can transform into an ultimate babyface. But who? Here are my examples:
Kofi Kingston: Back in 2009, Kingston was heavily involved in a feud against Randy Orton, who was a heel at the time. They exchanged wins, with Orton getting the upper hand. However, during this time Kingston himself was making his name well-known among fans. He started to speak without his Caribbean accent, he was performing memorable big spots around the arena and he even wrecked Orton’s sports car. It was all fantastic until one night, Kingston leaned in too much to receive an RKO and Orton reportedly threw a hissy fit. It was evident in the ring when Orton continuously called Kingston, “stupid“. The backlash? Kingston’s push immediately halted and he hasn’t seen past the mid-card since. Until now, maybe?
Mark Henry: Unlikely given his age, but there is still some gas left in his tank and crowds absolutely love him. Even as a monster heel that destroys faces, fans love seeing him crush people and deliver the “World’s Strongest Slam”. Fresh off a Money In The Bank loss to John Cena, Henry is now focusing on The Shield and with the help of The Usos, it could be the type of face turn that pushes him as a major face. Can he attract a large demographic and make the company money over the next three years? I have my doubts.
Darren Young: Young has all the tools you could fit into one body when it comes to a pro wrestler. He has a great look, very good in the ring (his match against Dolph Ziggler this week is evidence of that), he has tons of charisma and cuts a good promo. He seems very natural in the ring and at times has been compared to John Cena looks-wise. His current gimmick as part of the Prime Time Players isn’t really generating the heat a heel tag team should get. Instead, crowds are mostly dead for PTP. Perhaps a face turn could save him? He has the charisma and likability to really get the crowd on his side.
Titus O’Neil: The tag team partner of Darren Young pretty much falls into the same category as Young; a heel that isn’t really getting heat. In terms of look, Titus is a monster of a man. He has a great physique and when he powers opponents, he looks dominant. The problem with him is that he is very limited in the ring. Put a microphone in his hand and he’ll get the crowd laughing. Stick him in the ring and crowds tend to lose interest in him very quickly. If he can tone his moveset up a bit and remain fierce on his own over a 10-15 minute span, it could work out for him. The character is already there.
Ezekiel Jackson: Remember him? A brilliant name derived from Samuel L. Jackson and the Bible verse his character recited in Pulp Fiction, Jackson has a lot to work with. He obviously has a great look and his presence is felt inside the ring. As someone who has seen him up close and personal, he is a big, big man. His smile is quite contagious and he can get crowds to cheer for him but his charisma is still lacking. His ring skills are limited at best so that would need to be polished. After a re-packaged Jackson with a lengthier moveset and better microphone ability, he could work.
Big E. Langston: Langston is my choice. I’ve had the chance to watch him in NXT and he is the closest thing to being a complete package out of all the guys mentioned. He has the look no doubt about that. He can squat 711 lbs, bench press 529 lbs and dead lift 799 lbs. The person he beat in the dead lift record? Mark Henry. Langston also oozes charisma, although we have not seen that yet in the WWE. Back in NXT, Langston had this catchphrase “FIVE”, which is quite similar to Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” Can he wrestle? He sure can and he looks like an absolute behemoth when he tears opponents apart.
If management can turn Big E. Langston into a face and incorporate his FIVE gimmick, where he beats up his opponents then gets back into the ring to hit his finish, pin the opponent again and start his own count of five — then Langston would get over with any crowd. He is likable, funny, entertaining and a monster in the ring. If the WWE wants to have an African American babyface that sells to a demographic to the point of what Rey Mysterio does for the Latino crowd, within five years Big E. could be that guy.
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