Wrestling isn’t particularly shy about hiding what influences it.
Muhammad Ali, sporting legend, sold a fight like no other. Dusty Rhodes and Superstar Billy Graham subsequently patterned their own promos after his rapid-fire rhyme-heavy style. In the 1970s, Arnold Schwarzenegger created a sensation with Pumping Iron, and an entire generation of bodybuilders soon inflated their bodies. 1980s cinema showed off these rippling physiques to an awestruck public in love with the might and cheese of it all, and as a result, virtually every wrestler from that era got on the gas and strove to get over as a live, glistening version of the action hero.
Jerry Lawler nicked most of his best stuff from joke books.
“They were here, but not for very long at all.”
In the mid-’90s, the thought process was almost hilariously lazy, provided you weren’t too concerned about an industry in its death throes. It’s amusing how Bruce Prichard thought the answer to sh * tty occupational gimmicks was yet more of them.
“We haven’t done a plumber yet, and there are plumbers in society. We reflect society.”
It isn’t especially difficult to infer where CM Punk has driven inspiration of late, unless you can’t use Google or listen to commentary.
But The Rock …?
The Rock was incredible with a catchphrase.
People wanted to gravitate towards him, so they never stopped echoing his schtick back to him, and it helped that his schtick was tremendous. One was so great that WWE named an entire show after it. “Finally, the Rock has come back …” and “The millions … and millions” were his most iconic of him. They generated a booming ovation every single time and cast him as an elusive gift to every city, every denizen of which was in love with him.
The best was “It doesn’t matter!”
It was so brutally dismissive, and it wrong-footed the audience and his rival every time. It also allowed those rivals to show off their reaction in character. Being a heel is all about showing ass, which was rather easy to do when the Rock pulled their pants down.
Inexplicably, this was actually something Tiger Ali Singh did first.
For the uninitiated, Tiger Ali Singh was the absolute sh * ts, and as such was a brief undercard presence in 1998. He could actually talk, and played a rich pr * ck who paid audience plants to humiliate themselves. On one such occasion, he asked for the plant’s name before cutting her off. “That’s irrelevant, and doesn’t really matter” he said.
A watching writer must have thought “Good bit. Let’s give it to somebody with talent.”