Contrary to the opinion of my fellow number 2 contender, The Teacher, I don’t like Bo Dallas.
I don’t like Bo Dallas, and not in the way that I’m supposed to not like Bo Dallas.
I get it, I get the gimmick; Bo Dallas is the antithesis of what wrestling fans like. The attention to detail is there, from the smarmy look, the too-toothy grin, the constant state of wet – everything on this guy is hosed down before he heads to the ring, from hair to shirt. Someone probably should have told Bo that being constantly wet was the Shield’s gimmick, but with that group disbanded I guess the theft is acceptable.
So, Bo Dallas plays the character well. For me, the Bo Dallas character works best when he is oblivious of the hate coming from the audience and the other performers. For me, the illusion breaks when Bo does something heelish in a clearly premeditated manner, like his attacks on El Torito. If Bo really is a bad dude under the exterior, then the character is a façade and the cracks are showing. I was a bigger fan of his match against Damien Sandow on RAW this past Monday night. Sandow gave Bo a proverbial shellacking prior to the match, and I was entertained by the way Bo kept shaking his head, as if to say, “Oh, Damien, you kidder!”
The greater problem here is two-fold: One; The best characters are often those in which the performer sees some reflection of themselves. The most successful characters, like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, CM Punk, or, dare I say it, Brock Lesnar, all have some foundation in reality. This is a problem for Bo Dallas; no one in this world acts like Bo Dallas’ acts. He’s a cartoon character. Cartoon characters have worked in the past, but that was a different era. Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior, Bo Dallas is not.
Two; Where does this gimmick go? As a quirky comedy act, the Bo Dallas character has the potential to languish in the mid-card forever. Once his undefeated streak ends, where does Bo end up? This Bo Dallas could eventually hold the Intercontinental or U.S. Championship, but that day isn’t soon as he still hasn’t been tested against anyone in the running for either of those titles. What about the day when he drops that hypothetical mid-card title? As is, this character never climbs the card to compete for the world heavyweight championship. More likely, he ends up as enhancement talent.
The silver lining here? Bo Dallas, the performer, is talented. I think the current character does a lot to obscure how green he is on the microphone, but that is a skill that will continue to develop over time. His in-ring work is decidedly solid, even at this early stage. Moreover, I can see the WWE tweaking his character on a weekly basis. The matchup against Damien Sandow this week is proof that they are not wed to the idea of Bo Dallas as a heel. The character is not stagnant, and they are continuing to evolve the concept.
Give it six months. Does Bo fizzle out, or does he evolve into something greater than the character they are offering us now? Time will tell the story of Bo Dallas.