In professional wrestling, it’s almost universally considered a necessity for wrestlers to get interview time. Talking themselves up as the best in the business, discussing how much they hate their rivals, it’s as common as the actual wrestling itself. A good wrestler is said to be able to talk the fans into the building. Ric Flair bragged about his lavish lifestyle and how he’d outwrestle Dusty Rhodes. It’s hard to imagine how Flair, Dusty, Jake Roberts, Hogan, Savage or most other legends would have turned out had they been granted zero opportunities for interviews.
But then there are those who take a road far less traveled. The road of silence. Sometimes we get wrestlers who willingly choose not to talk at all, or very little. At first glance, this seems like lunacy. Sure, it can be difficult for some, but most think it’s essential to the game. Bret Hart wasn’t the best talker before 1997, but he still had to do interviews in order to make a connection with the audience. In a business where you need to dare to be different, some refuse to pick up a microphone. Some willingly choose to be voiceless.
But in order for a voiceless wrestler to get over with the audience, there needs to be something else they can bring to the table that is truly special. Something they can get across to the fans without saying a word.
In ECW, Sabu was a wild, crazy man hell bent on hurting other people, even if it meant sacrificing his body in the process. Crashing through tables, jumping off chairs, wrestling in barbed wire, he’d do anything. Anything except verbally berate his opponents. Except for extremely rare and brief occasions (not counting his WWE run), he was never allotted time to talk up his feuds (Paul Heyman eventually gave him a manager in Bill Alphonso.) But Sabu was able to do some great aerial maneuvers, a lot of moves that at the time were not commonly seen in the United States. He was able to get across to the fans that he was maniac by being brought in strapped to a gurney, putting himself through tables for no other reason than to hurt himself, and just by the nature of his suicidal aerial offense. Sabu didn’t need a microphone, he said everything loud and clear with his actions. And because Sabu didn’t talk, it gave him a unique aura. Fans knew enough about him for him to be over, but I’m sure fans wanted to know more of his thoughts on certain feuds and rivalries.
Before Kane’s character started speaking, he had impaired vocal cords and only spoke on rare occasions with an electronic device. At first he had his kayfabe father, Paul Bearer, by his side to help develop angles on the microphone. But after they split on screen, for periods of time Kane was a quiet solo act. He relied on his actions in the ring to tell the story. You could sense by how he moved if he was angry. Sometimes you knew he was emotional, by showing displays of compassion towards fallen friends (X-Pac and Chyna). Kane could speak with his actions, but he was helped a great deal in getting over by his incredible size. He was nearly 7 feet tall and a lean, muscular 320 lbs. Just being huge helps a great deal in pro wrestling. Before Kane started talking, he had a unique aura about him. Just like with Sabu, fans knew enough about how Kane was feeling, but we wanted to know more about him.
And while the lack of interview time does create an intriguing aura to a voiceless wrestler, they do have a hindrance that characters surrounding him will need to make up for. At Survivor Series 2014, Sting made his first appearance on WWE television and ended the Authority (temporarily). He did so without saying a word, as he was silent in all his WWE appearances until the go home Raw before WrestleMania. Commentators needed to explain to us that he was a vigilante, to clarify a picture we sort of already saw. Paul Heyman said Sting could say more with his actions than most wrestlers could in a twenty minute promo. But truth be told, those actions can’t say everything. Triple H needed to carry the verbal side of things, to make it less vague on at least one side. If there is a rivalry between two characters who don’t speak, it is a very tough program to pull off.
Obviously managers can be a valuable tool for silent wrestlers. As stated before, Paul Bearer did a lot of speaking for Kane. And while we wondered what Kane was all about, we could get some of the answers by looking at Paul Bearer. They had a partnership where Paul basically controlled Kane and made him do whatever he wanted. In a way, Kane’s incentives were to do whatever his father wanted him to do, like summon lightening during a Raw. Paul Bearer and longtime rival/ally Undertaker explained to all of us what Kane’s background was, and we knew he was unable to speak because of his impaired vocal cords, and was somewhat mentally disturbed. Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler did a great job of constantly describing the kayfabe environment that surrounded Kane.
George “The Animal Steele” did a famous storyline in the eighties where he was infatuated with Randy Savage’s valet, Miss Elizabeth. George’s character had trouble speaking because he was mentally deficient. But through the broken sentences and sporadic words he put together, and the tone of voice he would use, we could tell he was a good hearted person. He would say “pretty” when shown a picture of Miss Elizabeth, and through various other actions, we understood he had a crush on the first lady of wrestling. He didn’t fully explain it, because he couldn’t, but we understood it. And just like in the Triple H/Sting program, Macho Man needed to carry a lot of the storyline in his own right. He conveyed his intense jealousy and possessiveness, and he did that mostly through his interviews, through his words.
Yokozuna was a physically imposing human being, to say the least. Weighing over six hundred pounds, he manhandled many preliminary wrestlers with ease. But to the best of my knowledge, he never spoke a word besides “Banzai!”. His character was Japanese and did not speak English. He had Mr. Fuji with him who could break the language barrier for him and communicate for him to the audience. Jim Cornette, though he didn’t speak Japanese, could do the same. Yokozuna had a somewhat mysterious aura to him as well, and we understood him through his actions. He was deathly afraid of the Undertaker because he ran away from him, looking terrified. He was sick and tired of how Jim Cornette treated him and eventually wanted payback, and we understood that through the anger on his face, and giving the Banzai Drop to a dummy dressed like Cornette. Yokozuna looked like a monster, so he didn’t need to give interviews.
And while voiceless characters can get over through their actions, size and/or managers, what can’t be made up for is their push, or lack of attention in the product. I remember a lot of luchadores in WCW didn’t get mic time, and while they had something special to offer in the ring, if they weren’t getting a push, no one cared about them. People like Sabu, Sting, Kamala, etc. were hyped up in promotional packages and commentators spent a great deal of time discussing them. Without that type of focus from the company, voiceless wrestlers are in a seriously tough position. Most wrestlers, even those the promotion deemphasizes, can get a break occasionally by saying something interesting in their brief interview time. Villano #2 in WCW didn’t get those chances. WCW hyped up Sting week after week in 1997, and while there were plenty of wrestlers on their roster who didn’t speak, they didn’t get nearly the attention and hype Sting did. He didn’t say a word that year until the first Thunder, he simply stared blankly, pointed baseball bats and attacked the nW.o. But he needed the attention he got to become as marketable as he was that year.
It’s relatively rare in wrestling we get characters who willingly don’t speak, despite getting strong pushes. Some characters may do it because they are too crazy and uncontrollable to speak, like Sabu. Some characters physically couldn’t, like Kane. Others couldn’t speak English like Yokozuna, and others simply had a serious, somewhat depressive nature to them where they chose to be silent, like Sting. Whatever the case may be, these wrestlers need to get themselves over through their actions, their physical size and/or their managers. But not only that, it is a necessity to hear the other people surrounding them talk about them, like commentators, their rivals, their allies, their managers if they have one. And above all else, they are only marketable when they get focus from the company, with Sting in 1997 being a prime example. They are the few, the rare, the enigmatic, the voiceless.
Last edited by AliFrazier100; 08-12-2019 at 04:18 PM.