If your heart grew three sizes with excitement when your learned BOOM! Studios was teaming with World Wrestling Entertainment, you weren’t alone. Comic books involving the WWE have largely been what could politely be described as a dumpster fire over the years, but given BOOM!’s handling of other licensed titles including “Adventure Time,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” our hope is the company will make things right this time.
With hundreds of characters to pull from between WWE and WWE-owned properties such as NXT, ECW and WCW, there are no shortage of excellent options to feature in a pro graps-themed comic book. CBR has some options we’d like to run by the fine people at BOOM! Studios, so, presented for your entertainment are the 11 current WWE superstars who need to have their own comic.
11. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho’s semiannual returns to the WWE have been missing something. But in 2016, he’s recaptured the heart of longtime fans, and many new ones, by playing a delusional and confident idiot who wants to relive his glory days at the expense of everyone around him. Between coining hilarious new catch phrases like “You stupid idiot” and his budding frenemy relationship with Kevin Owens, this version of Jericho could easily carry a comic book series featuring the many misadventures this character could go on when he’s not in the ring.
But Jericho is an easy one. That’s why we started with him. Between his legendary feud with Shawn Michaels to that time he got into a real life altercation with Goldberg, the master of The Moss Covered Three-Handled Family Gredunza and 1,003 other holds has plenty of material for a comic book writer to pull from. Honestly though, we’re less interested in the in-ring content for any of these comics than the storytelling potential outside of the ring. If you want your fix of professional wrestling, there’s at least 10 hours of it each week on television, most of which belong to WWE. If these comics are to succeed, outside the ring is where it’s at. And that means getting creative.
For the ayatollah of rock and rolla, we’d love it if we got an Americanized version of “Detroit Metal City” starring Jericho and his band, Fozzy. How great would that be?
If you don’t know who or what a Bayley is, you’re missing out. She is one of WWE’s best new characters from this decade, and once she hits the main WWE roster, she could be a household name on par with Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Sting, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. That’s because, like the Hogan of the ’80s, the Sting of the early ’90s (before Sting started to do a pretty accurate impression of James O’Barr’s The Crow), and John Cena from the ’00s, Bayley is an untainted hero. She’s a happy, positive role model to little girls everywhere, and a character that is impossible to dislike even for older fans. That’s because, in addition to being your traditional wrestling hero character, her character is also a wrestling fan, leading to comical and heartwarming interactions with everyone that she meets. (This has been downplayed recently for making her a little more serious as NXT Women’s Champ, but it’s a component that will almost certainly be reintroduced upon her introduction to the main roster.)
Given Bayley’s relentlessly positive attitude, and her unquestioning trust placed in people she shouldn’t trust at all, Bayley is essentially your Supergirl; a character that’s relatable and likable to readers who you can build a large supporting cast around. Think of Bayley as an entry point for readers into a larger WWE comics universe. But don’t think we’re discounting Bayley as a mere doorway character. Let’s not forget that the former NXT Women’s Champion can also kick some serious butt when needed. If you put her with the right mix of villains, you instantly have a character people are going to cheer for.
9. Finn BÃ¡lor
Like Bayley, Finn BÃ¡lor is your prototypical wrestling hero, but with one key twist: On occasion, he’s been known to go full body paint crazy and introduce a twisted alternative version of himself, known as “The Demon.” Like Sting’s less than subtle homage to The Crow before coming to WWE, BÃ¡lor as Prince Devitt was known to wear body paint making him take the form of Marvel’s Venom and The Punisher, among many other characters. An immediate fan favorite with the NXT crowd, it’s likely that when BÃ¡lor comes to the main WWE roster, he could steal the show, and the spotlight from many of his current contemporaries.
What makes BÃ¡lor interesting is his darkness. On the surface he may seem like another good looking good guy character with not much else going on, but the duality of “The Demon” character allows for a writer to create a whole new set of twists and turns in terms of the story. For example, who’s to say that BÃ¡lor, while a hero in the ring, has to be a hero in his own comic? If there’s anyone who could pull off being a supervillain in the WWE, BÃ¡lor would be at the top of that list. And for those of you who followed BÃ¡lor’s work in Japan with The Bullet Club, you know he can play the villain with ease.
8. Bray Wyatt
You would think that a cult of hillbillies that live in a swamp and talk about taking down “The Machine” would be crowd favorites, and they were, until they started losing to everyone. Most people gave up on Bray Wyatt when his only win over John Cena came thanks to the involvement of a creepy magic ghost child. Professional wrestling is weird sometimes, and sometimes great ideas like The Wyatt Family don’t work the way you think they will.
That said, Bray Wyatt would be a fun character to feature in his own comic book, namely because of his versatility. You could do a straight-up horror comic, maybe something like what Rob Zombie cooked up in “House of 1,000 Corpses,” but that’s the easy way. The more interesting thing to do would be a fish-out-of-water story with Bray Wyatt trying to take on the corporate world … from the inside. (Hey, his whole deal is trying to bring down “The Machine,” right?) Put him in a suit. Have Human Resources tell Wyatt that he can’t cast spells on the co-workers he doesn’t like. Maybe he decides to take the cafeteria hostage until Hawaiian Shirt Friday is reinstated. The possibilities are endless.
He used to be called Antonio Cesaro. WWE shortened it to Cesaro because Vince McMahon thinks you can’t remember somebody’s first name. (The same thing happened to Big E Langston when he simply became Big E; ditto for the former Adrian Neville, now just “Neville.”)
Cesaro is like that friend everyone has who is excellent at what they do, and super-talented in nearly every conceivable way related to their profession. But he doesn’t have the backing of the boss, so he’s gone as far as he can at the place he works, and now he just shows up occasionally to remind people of how awesome he is. This is because the company he works for actively wants you to forget that unless they need someone in a pinch to make one of their other “stars” look good. (See Reigns, Roman.)
Like Bray Wyatt, that’s a compelling and fun character to write. Particularly since you go deeper into why someone that good at what they do would continue to show up and work at a place that doesn’t appreciate him. (In real life, the answer is obvious: Money.) But in a comic book, the answer could be something else. Maybe Cesaro is a spy, and the WWE allows him to travel to cities where he can collect and report information to his superiors. Hey, if James Bond can turn his boyhood home into a magical murder home to defeat better-armed opponents, then Cesaro could be the star of an espionage comic that only uses professional wrestling as a way to hook new readers. As it stands now, he’s dressing the part. Except James Bond never had a tearaway suit, making Cesaro his fashionable better.
6. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is The Incredible Hulk. Except instead of turning into puny human Bruce Banner after the rage and inner turmoil that fuels the Hulk has subsided, Brock Lesnar remains Brock Lesnar. The UFC and WWE star is the final boss of professional wrestling, making his few appearances in the ring each year memorable — even if his choice of opponent can be puzzling.
Brock as an uncontrollable rage monster who hilariously flips out over the most inconsequential things would be a comedic masterpiece of a comic. It might even be superior to what Nick Spencer has been doing in “Astonishing Ant-Man,” and that’s one of the funniest comics out there today.
Sure, there would be ass kicking in a Brock Lesnar comic, but what keeps readers coming back each month would be to see who Brock flips out on next. We’re betting it’ll be the mail carrier. Nobody’s told Brock about Amazon Prime and he’s been waiting for six weeks for his used DVD copy of “Rick and Morty” Season One to come in. Six! That’d make anyone crazy.
5. Xavier Woods
The host of YouTube’s popular UpUpDownDown show and one-third of WWE Tag Team Champs The New Day, Xavier Woods is a geek — just like us. Together with Big E and WWE stalwart Kofi Kingston, who is finally getting some love thanks to The New Day’s success, Woods has become another breakout WWE character that fans love and could easily make the leap into his own solo comic book series.
Yes, having Big E and Kofi around as a supporting cast would be amazing. But having Woods play a slightly more obnoxious version of himself where he rates, comments and reviews everything he encounters in life, from the neighborhood dog to what he had for lunch, would create an opportunity to drive numerous plots forward in a comic that could outlast “The Walking Dead.” To wit, imagine if Woods reviews the wrong person he meets and only gives them one star out of five. And that person turns out to be connected to the Mob. Now the Mob is pissed and wants Woods dead, meaning he has to use his professional wrestling skills to defend himself while going on the lam to avoid their wrath.
Hey, the plot to “Southern Bastards,” is driven by not much more than that, and how many awards has that comic been nominated for now?
4. AJ Styles
Confession: We’re fans of TNA Wrestling. No. Those initials don’t stand for what you think they do, although the company strongly considered going down that road in their early days. We tell you this because, “The Final Deletion” aside, the company is mostly known as a joke where fans speculate how much longer it’ll stay in business to pass the time. One of the bright spots from TNA’s (surprisingly) long run as a company is AJ Styles. So we’re thrilled by the fact that he not only exists in the WWE, but they haven’t treated him like a joke. (So far!) This is the tradition and fate that greets almost every major wrestling star who made a name for themselves elsewhere and then comes to the WWE, because Vince McMahon thinks his characters are superior to everyone else’s. Don’t take our word for it. Go and watch any part of the “Invasion” storyline and you’ll see what we’re saying.
An AJ Styles comic would be a slam dunk if you were to go with a biographical perspective. The guy has been all over the world. Give him the Harvey Pekar treatment and have him tell you how great Tokyo is while showing highlights of his wrestling matches. He’ll give you some history of the city and then tie it into his own history a la Pekar’s “Cleveland” graphic novel. Maybe like Pekar, Styles will do a follow-up and share some thoughts on Israel, too. Or maybe not, because controversy. But a series that follows a real road warrior’s global adventures? Yes. We do think that’ll sell, Mr. and Mrs. Comic Book Retailer. We do.
3. Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews has no personality. The character. Not the dude. Just so we’re clear. But the WWE rookie has so far succeeded despite the character showing a complete and total lack of charisma. That’s a shame, because before he got to WWE, Apollo was insanely entertaining, and we have faith that he will eventually be a big star for the promotion. Honestly, out of everyone on this list, Apollo is the one most in need of a comic book. That’s because in the hands of a skilled writer, Crews can get the personality and character he so richly deserves. And when that happens? Look out, because the dude can go in the ring. Meaning that if Apollo Crews can put it all together and not be hampered by bad writing and a lack of personality? You could be looking at a possible replacement for John Cena.
And a comic book for Apollo isn’t terribly hard to put together. The fact that the character has no personality means he has to go out in search of one. That could mean an epic road trip involving a lot of barbiturates and a trip to Vegas for an auto show, or it could just as easily be about a guy trying on different personalities and overcoming issues of self-esteem and confidence to be a better person and make the world a better place. Like, y’know, Spider-Man.
2. Darren Young
If you don’t follow the current WWE product, you may know Darren as a staunch LGBT advocate who occasionally wrestles. If you do follow the product, you’ll know that Darren Young currently finds himself teamed with our personal favorite wrestling character ever, Mr. Bob Backlund. If you have not experienced the glory that is a certifiable lunatic who likes to put people in crippling submission holds and insist that fans recite all of the Presidents of the United States, in order, to get his autograph, you’re missing out on the greatest thing in the entire universe. And Darren Young has decided that this guy, this guy, should be his life coach.
Young’s general mild-mannered approach to life and the screaming lunatic, who turns bright red in the face and enters a state of pure madness at the presence of “the plebeians,” would be a dynamite combination for a comic book. Perhaps the greatest comic of our time. Yes, better than “All Star Superman.” And the best part is, you don’t need much of imagination to figure out how this comic would work at all. You can just go watch old episodes of “Wilfred” and replace the talking dog with Mr. Backlund, and you’ll know exactly how great that comic would be. And if you can’t, go and watch some clips involving Mr. Backlund, and now imagine him standing over your bed at six in the morning and waking you up while screaming, “PMA! Positive Mental Attitude.” It’s terrifying, right? That’s why he’s perfect for Darren Young, and perfect for a comic.
1. Sin Cara
Stop laughing. The original Sin Cara had his own comic book, but we’re not talking about that guy’s life before coming to the WWE, which was objectively better than anything that happened to him following his coming to the company. When Sin Cara came to WWE, he became best known for making mistakes in the ring and getting injured. Sometimes not in that order. Sometimes both in the same match. If there was a patron saint of not living up to WWE expectations, it would be the original Sin Cara. Sin Cara became a walking punchline, which led to his ouster from the company and replacement by another wrestler to perform like him. Sadly, that new wrestler wasn’t able to restore much luster to the character either but has managed to get injured to keep the tradition alive. Sin Cara has a reputation to uphold, after all.
So why then should Sin Cara get a comic and not his fellow Lucha Dragon, Kalisto? First, children love Sin Cara. It’s the only possible explanation for why he continues to exist alongside his tag team partner. We’d like to think they like Sin Cara in the way we used to like Super Dave Osborne, but who knows. What we do know is that the WWE is obsessed with the children to the detriment of their older fans. You know, the ones they desperately need to sign up for WWE Network since they’re banking the future of their company on that platform. But a Sin Cara comic could be perfect for children. Think about how great it would be to teach children lessons in anatomy based on all the bones Sin Cara has broken as well as the other things that he’s injured? You could easily put copies of the Sin Cara in elementary school libraries across America, and that’s the kind of thing the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund would approve of.
Should Kalisto, get his own comic? Absolutely. Would it be anywhere near as fun and entertaining as a cursed and injury prone sensation having adventures? Not a chance.
Which WWE wrestler would you like to see fly out of the ring and into a comic book? Let us know in the comments!
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