Friday, July 8, 2011

Whatever Happened to the Athletic Fat Guy?

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Steen: Not svelte, but definitely the goods
Earthquake. Vader. Big Boss Man. Bam Bam Bigelow. The mainstream feds used to be full of athletic big men who had beer bellies to go with their technical prowess and in some cases, high flying moves. Commenter Lucius lamented on Twitter that the athletic fat guy has gone to the wayside. True, if you scour the WWE's roster right now, you'll find one guy who fits the "athletic" mold, rather than the monster role. That guy is Brodus Clay, who's also totally not on TV right now. Mark Henry is a fat guy, but he's also very much a monster-type. He fits a stereotype more than anything else. There's nothing wrong with that at all, as Henry is among the best things going right now in my opinion, but again, variety is a spice of life that WWE doesn't use a whole lot of.

Impact is slightly better. Samoa Joe and Bully Ray are both beer-gutted wrestlers who move around quite well for guys their size. The indies have two other really good examples, one being Kevin Steen, obviously, and the other being Eddie Kingston. Kingston is a borderline example, as he's not really that fat. Steen is a better example in terms of body type. Both men are tremendous wrestlers. Then again, enumerating all those guys, plus adding in maybe Husky Harris, and it's six guys tops who fit the mold. In terms of how many sheer wrestlers are out there, that might be a small number, but then again, what fat people in America today are athletic as well?

Body types have changed over the years too. Be it steroids, better conditioning, better diet, more discipline, more pressure from management to have a better body type or whatever, you don't see nearly as many barrel chests or doughy stomachs anymore. Like it or not, WWE's neuroses over body type have ruled the day to the point where if you want to be a wrestler, you have to acquiesce to WWE's idea of what a wrestler looks like.

Be that as it may, how many truly great athletic fat guys have there been? I wonder if the number of guys with beer guts who can fly around the ring with ease now is just the same as it's been historically. However, the difference is, Boss Man, Earthquake, Vader and Bam Bam all were near the top of the card in WWF, WCW or both. Bam Bam main evented WrestleMania. Boss Man teamed with Hogan and Quake and Vader both feuded with him. Meanwhile, Clay and Harris aren't on TV, Joe and Bully are in a company with no direction, and Steen and Kingston both are kings of the indies.

So maybe Lucius has a point here. It's the number of athletic fat guys, but how they're presented. As a fan of guys like the four historic guys and as boosters of Steen, Kingston, Brodus and Joe, I love seeing this wrestler archetype get its due. So I say yes, let Clay back on WWE TV. Yes, sign Steen, War King and even Joe (if he's available) to WWE and push them to the moon. All body types are welcome, actually. Homogeny is never a good thing. Variety is a spice best applied liberally.

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography

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