As those close to me know, I try to involve myself in learning about as many sports as possible, which includes the field of “sports entertainment.” Since Cleveland will be hosting a WWE night on Wednesday, why not mix the two? Before the Cavaliers face off against the Chicago Bulls, I’ll take almost the whole Cleveland Cavaliers roster and give them their wrestling counterpart. Let the kayfabe (fake) fun commence!
*NOTE* I’m aware that probably not many of you guys are Cavs fans AND wrestling fans, so I’ll try to explain any wrestling terminology that may be foreign to any of you.
So let’s start off with a bang! And remember, WWE superstars and Cleveland natives Dolph Ziggler and the Miz will be in attendance on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Anthony Bennett – THE SHOCKMASTER
In wrestling, people portray characters, and the Shockmaster was supposed to be a character that would take the world by storm. It didn’t happen that way. In his debut, the Shockmaster was supposed to emphatically burst through a wall and make an amazing debut. Instead, he tripped over a board coming through the wall, fell down and lost his helmet, and instantly became one of the biggest flops the wrestling industry had ever seen. In a similar way, Anthony Bennett was supposed to be a big piece of the Cavs roster this season – a No. 1 overall pick that was an athletic combo forward that could score from anywhere and eventually become a top-flight talent due to his potential. Instead, in his debut (rookie season), he has been about as big a flop as could be, suffering just about every setback imaginable. Health problems, conditioning, effort, shooting, and overall confidence have all been lacking for what looked to be a promising talent. The Shockmaster went down in infamy as one of the biggest flops in wrestling history – here’s hoping that the same does not happen to Bennett.
Anderson Varejao – Dolph Ziggler
Since Dolph Ziggler will be in attendance at the Cavs game, I figured it would be good to plug him in somewhere. Dolph Ziggler is an overall very good wrestler, but there’s one part of his repertoire that is special, and that is his ability to react to an opponent’s attacks to make them look like they actually hurt, or “sell.” Dolph can make even the most ridiculous wrestling moves look like they hurt. I mean, check out his sell on Zack Ryder’s rough ryder:
Anyway, so he can act well. And Andy has been known as a bit of an actor himself, in regards to taking charges (Hey, you gotta make the contact look good for a charge to be called, right?). Both can act like they’re taking quite the hard hit.
All jokes aside, both guys have also, unfortunately, had their careers disrupted by injuries. Andy was in the midst of an All-Star season last year, before it was halted by a quad injury and a blood clot. That marked three straight years that Varjejao had an injury-shortened season, and it leaves fans to wonder how good he could have been if he had not been injured.
Ziggler, earlier this season, also had a injury that halted his “push” (where a wrestler has a winning streak and has his standing in the company increased). Due to his popularity with the fans, WWE writers had Dolph Ziggler win the World Heavyweight Championship, the then second-biggest championship in the company. However, shortly thereafter, Ziggler suffered a legitimate concussion after being kicked in the head by Jack Swagger. It was not long after this that Ziggler lost the title and has not been in the title picture since then. It’s always sad to see injuries affect people’s careers, and this was no exception.
Plus, they both have cool, unique hair.
Kyrie Irving – Daniel Bryan
For me this was the easiest comparison. Irving and Bryan are (currently) the most popular people in their respective organizations. Irving is, without a doubt, the most popular person in the Cavaliers’ organization in quite some time, and for good reason; Irving has been producing at an All-Star level since he came into the league, giving Cavs fans hope for the future, and a person that can put them on the map nationally. Similarly, Bryan has risen to the top of the WWE, being arguably the best pure wrestler on the roster, and has become insanely popular with WWE fans. Bryan’s now iconic “YES!” chants have even made their way into the mainstream, as demonstrated by the Michigan State basketball crowd during the halftime of their game with Ohio State. Also, let’s not forget that Irving can portray a character quite well himself, as shown by the success of “Uncle Drew”
Matthew Dellavedova – Emma
Here’s where things get fun (for me at least). The obvious comparison is that they are both Australian; this is a very uncommon thing in both basketball and wrestling. Also, both Matthew and Emma were underdogs to make it in their respective businesses; Dellavedova was undrafted out of St. Mary’s, and a long shot to even make a team’s regular season roster, let alone part of their rotation. Emma beat out 40 other potential female wrestlers to land a spot on the WWE roster, and has spent the past couple years in their developmental system, NXT. But lastly, there’s an X-factor about both of these two. Just something about them that is just so quirky that you love. Perhaps it’s all the puns you can make with their names (#EMMAlution, #DELLAVEDOnians). I don’t know, but they are just so fun to watch. You should totally check out Emma’s silly but intoxicating dance below:
Now that’s #EMMAtaining.
Dion Waiters – the Miz
I hate to be negative on guys, but hey, there has to be at least one. Both Waiters and the Miz seem to be disinterested at times with their respective companies; there were a lot of reports of Waiters being unhappy with his situation in Cleveland, and wanting out of the company. In addition, Waiters often frustrates fans by showing promise, then making poor decisions leading to inconsistent production. Similarly, the Miz, a Cleveland native, seems more interested in breaking into the acting business than being an entertaining wrestler, for months plugging his ABC family movie “Christmas Bounty.” The Miz also cannot get into the favor of the fans; despite currently being a “face” character, or a good guy, the fans haven’t responded extremely well to him. Like Waiters, the Miz shows promise at times; he was pushed to be the WWE champion in the past, and seemed to be gaining favor with the fans in the “authority” storyline this year, however, he couldn’t keep up the momentum for an extended period.
C.J. Miles – Tyson Kidd
C.J. Miles is a sharpshooter. Tyson Kidd’s signature submission maneuver is called the Sharpshooter. Need I say more?
….Yeah, I probably should. Both these guys are guys you probably wouldn’t know too much about if you were a casual fan of the product; Miles is a limited starter for a fringe-playoff team, and Kidd rarely appears on WWE’s main show, Monday Night RAW. But for those that follow each product a bit more closely, both these guys can be appreciated. Kidd is an internet darling, a guy that people on the internet believe is vastly underrated and underutilized. Known for strong technical wrestling skills, Kidd, although not a major player in any current WWE title picture, is a guy that is still a strong contributor to his sport. Similarly, Miles is a guy that has, for a while, been under-appreciated in the NBA. Although a bit one-dimensional in his game (he is, more or less, a shooter), Miles has proven to be a dependable contributor on a nightly basis, and frankly one of the most dependable players the Cavs have had this season. Although a casual watcher that isn’t a fan of the Cavs or Jazz may not know who he is, those that do can appreciate the performance he gives each time he’s out on the court.
Luol Deng – Dean Malenko
Deng is a bit of an anomaly in today’s game in that he rarely opens his mouth – which is also an anomaly in the wrestling industry, as a big part of a wrestlers’ repertoire is to be able to speak as if an actor, particularly when cutting a promo (performing a monologue or interview). However, “the man of 1,000 holds,” Dean Malenko, actually fits into a comparison quite nicely. First off, as aforementioned, they are both kind of the quiet type; they don’t say too much, just go out on the court/ring and do a great job. Another reason is that both guys are swiss-army knives at what they do. Deng can score, rebound, pass, and play great defense on any given night; unassumingly, he is one of the steadiest contributors night in and night out in the NBA. Malenko, “the man of 1000 holds,” was known for his myriad of maneuvers, entertaining the crowd with many different submission-type moves and his overall strong technical ability. And, they both have influential signature moves: Malenko with the Texas Cloverleaf and Deng with his spin move!
Tristan Thompson – Mick Foley
Although the “hardcore legend,” Foley, and Thompson don’t appear to be very similar, I assure you they share some qualities. For one, neither was as highly thought of at the position they acquired; Thompson was a projected mid-first rounder, with criticisms on his ability to shoot the ball. Foley was questioned on whether he fit the mold of a WWE Champion; most people who won the belt were supposed to have a good “look” for it, one like the Rock had. However, both worked extremely hard, and improved greatly. Thompson has become the most reliable player for the Wine & Gold night in and night out, and has become a double-double machine. Foley went on to produce some of the greatest moments in wrestling history, such as being thrown off the top of a steel cage:
In addition, Foley was able to become WWF (the old WWE) Champion three times, a feat rarely reached by a person with his “look” and build. The hard work the two put in is evident by the changes the two were willing to make; Foley portrayed three different characters during the same time period (Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack) and had to switch personas on the fly. Thompson has worked to switch his shooting hand and develop a consistent jump shot, and to immediate success (his free throw percentage has gone way up). Foley’s hard work paid dividends for him in the industry, and let’s hope that Thompson’s will as well.
Andrew Bynum – Wade “Bad News” Barrett
This should be obvious. Aside from the fact that Bynum was nothing but bad news, they share the similarity that they were both supposed to be big for their respective organizations but did not pan out. Barrett, a very good wrestler, was given a push this year and became Intercontinental Champion (let’s say that’s akin to getting a $25 million contract). However, when he did, he rarely appeared afterwords (like Bynum), and once he dropped the title to Curtis Axel (akin to the trade), he got a new gimmick as a guy that delivered bad news (was out of a job in the NBA). Now the only thing that’s left is for Barrett to deliver Bynum the bad news that his knees are destroyed and his NBA career is all but over.
If you somehow read all this, thank you so much! Please let me know what you thought in the comments.