wrestling / Columns

The Magnificent Seven: 7 Times The Entrance Was More Over Than The Wrestler

October 15, 2018 | Posted by Mike Chin
Wrestler Bobby Roode's Bobby Roode WWE Smackdown

In an ideal, fair wrestling world, every performer would have an entrance commensurate with his or her ability star power. We’re talking the awe-inspiring mystique of The Undertaker’s elaborate entrances to go with his status as a legendary performer; the glass shattering and bad MFer walk that kick-started Stone Cold Steve Austin’s every performance; the grandeur of Ric Flair’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30” and robe to go with his persona and in-ring greatness; or even Hulk Hogan’s shirt-ripping, flag-waving, muscle-flexing bombast to complement the most over real-life super hero in the business.

There are, however, those cases when a genuinely great entrance is attached to a middling talent, or at least a talent who can’t live up to the spectacle of how he or she comes to the ring. This week’s column is dedicated to seven instances when a performer’s entrance was more over than the wrestler him or herself.

#7. The Ultimate Warrior

This was the hardest entry to settle on for this countdown, because The Ultimate Warrior was very much over at his late 1980s, early 1990s peak as a legitimate icon of the business, and guy who won a WrestleMania main event—an accomplishment that has always meant something, but arguably meant even more when he was joining the elite ranks of only Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage (and, OK, Mr. T).

My argument here is less that Warrior was flop, than that his entrance was more important to his legend than anything he did after the opening bell had rung. The pump of his electric guitar music, paired with the sight of this long-haired, face-painted, muscle-bound ball of energy sprinting down the aisle and shaking the ropes were all electric and far more memorable than his in ring work. No, his prime wasn’t a period when the WWF privileged work rate, but even under those terms, he was always more character than bell-to-bell workhorse. He even copped in interviews to starting matches already winded, because he put everything he had into his entrance, wanting to give the fans one hundred percent on that wild run to the ring.

#6. Bobby Roode

Not altogether unlike Warrior, Bobby Roode was a tough entry because he’s such a talented wrestler, which he demonstrated particularly well in his main event run with TNA. Moreover, he performed well as the top heel in NXT for a year before graduating to the main roster.

It’s just that, while Roode got over well in NXT, it’s his theme song, “Glorious,” that truly exploded.

“Glorious”—and particularly the gospel choir performance of it upon his debut at TakeOver: Brooklyn—got over huge, and despite playing a heel (and playing the part well) got Roode over as one of the most popular acts in developmental. It got him over enough that WWE seemingly hot-shotted him up to the main roster, not waiting for him to have a clearly defined storyline, or for the traditional post-WrestleMania call up, but rather bringing him up after SummerSlam weekend and as a face.

While the song remains over as one of the fans’ favorites, and Roode’s whole presentation with his robe and exaggerated gestures plays well, the guy has operated mostly without any creative direction ever since, and has only been booked into match situations where he can show so much. Hopefully, he’ll get his heel turn before too much time passes and there’s no turning back from him being a forgettable mid-carder. For what little it’s worth, the theme song alone just might keep him relevant and extend his WWE career.

#5. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and Carmella

While any of the individuals listed here could go on individually, it’s as a package deal in NXT that this trio quite arguably got its most over. They were never a particularly a well-oiled machine between the ropes, but when they got to the entrance ramp with the spectacle of Enzo’s shuffle, Big Cass’s size, and Carmella’s looks, they engendered instant excitement. And, of course, Amore’s work on the mic shot them into the stratosphere.

The critics aren’t wrong—in addition to being, at best, just OK at actual wrestling, Amore’s promos on the way to the ring were mostly recitations of the same material over and over again. The shtick was quite good, though, and easy for the crowd to chant along to, besides giving way to some special moments when Amore ad-libbed and targeted specific big-time opponents. The entrance was over enough to keep the team in the spotlight, despite the fact that none of them were particularly good workers (Carmella may have been the most complete wrestler of the three), and ultimately punch their ticket to the main roster.

#4. Melina

Melina was a reasonable enough wrestler, particularly for her era of women’s wrestling in WWE which was much more oriented toward prettier faces working a few spots than athletes delivering hard-hitting, competitive matches. What got her over, though—bringing her to the top of the pack and affording her a legacy, was her entrance.

Yes, there was the red carpet rolled out, the paparazzi, and the blaring music she shared with the MNM tag team she started out managing. On top of these pieces, there was the way she go into the ring, dropping into a full split that demonstrated just how insanely flexible she was, before ducking down low in sensual fashion to enter the ring beneath the bottom rope. In time, she’d incorporate her ability to bend and do splits more in her actual in-ring performance, but it would be the way she came into the ring that most set her apart from the rest of the roster and got her over as a star.

3. Adam Rose

Not unlike the way Bobby Roode got called up because his theme song was so over, Adam Rose got an even more premature promotion to the main roster. One of the differences is that while Roode does have the complete skill set to succeed and has been hampered by his booking, Rose comes across more as a fun idea for an act, picked before he was ripe.

Rather than just a song, Rose was accompanied by an entourage of party people, prone to carrying him around the ring, and capturing underused talents, backstage staff, and fellow prospects in eccentric costumes enhanced his flamboyant persona to genuinely feel like a party on his way to the ring. It’s a shame we never got to see a WrestleMania-sized entourage of Rosebuds, but it became altogether too clear within a few weeks that he wasn’t a primetime wrestler, just a guy with a primetime entrance. Strip that away with an abrupt heel turn, and he was a just a guy hanging onto the bottom rung of the main roster, riding Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas’s coattails in the Social Outcasts faction. Sadly, his spiritual successor, No Way Jose, doesn’t seem to being doing any better with a similar dynamic for how he comes to the ring.

3. Gangrel

When you think about the most iconic entrances of the Attitude Era, Gangrel—and particularly Gangrel with The Brood—rates. In addition to the horror-tinged heavy rock riff of the entrance music, there was the spectacular visual of him rising up from the stage surrounded by flames and drinking a “viscous fluid” from a chalice. There are ways in which a vampire gimmick should have been too cartoonish for the Attitude Era, but a sense of violence and legitimate macabre helped carry this forward to feel a lot less Count Chocula, and a lot more Lost Boys.

Sadly, Gangrel wouldn’t amount to much in WWE lore—despite a three-decade career that would involve collecting a lot of championships, and remaining active today, he never picked up any hardware in the WWF, his most memorable time with The Brood lasted less than a year, and intellectual property disputes around his name mean that he’s not at the top of the list to be called back for guest spots. Still fans remember his entrance to this day.

2. The Road Dogg

The Road Dogg is one of the more fully over acts on this countdown, who came from a wrestling family, enjoyed longevity, and collected more than his share of tag team and mid-card gold. However, the one element of his on-screen career that makes him a surefire eventual WWE Hall of Famer is the way he came to the ring, in particular, though not exclusively, alongside Billy Gunn as The New Age Outlaws.

Oh, you didn’t know?

This line started one of wrestling’s most iconic routine promos and sing-along monologues for the crowd to join in as the D-O-double-G talked his way down the entrance ramp to an explosive response. Enzo Amore emulated this act, and briefly looked as though he could template a career after Road Dogg’s model, before abruptly getting the boot from WWE. So it is that Road Dogg remains in rarefied air for one of the all-time great WWE entrances, without which he’d likely as not be pretty forgettable in WWE history.

1. The Sandman

The Sandman was never a polished technician in the ring, nor was he particularly known for great promo work. What he was known showing up in the stands with a Singapore cane and some beer, wailing on himself until he bled while Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blared, working the ECW crowd into a frenzy before he ever got to the ring.

To be fair, The Sandman was a reasonable in-ring performer for the gimmick he was working during his prime in ECW. He got exposed in WCW, though, plunged into the Hardcore division with little by way of meaningful gimmick and was quickly lost in the shuffle. By the time he brought his act to WWE’s version of ECW, he was a shell of his former self, stripped of his copyrighted music that ECW only got away using because of a loophole (as Paul Heyman explained on a WWE Network panel discussion, playing music like his over a microphone rather than the proper speaker system allowed them to skirt copyright law with the music counting as “ambient noise”). Nonetheless, the sight of him coming through the stands, ready to inflict violence with a kendo stick, satisfied the nostalgic purposes he was there for reminding fans of just how over his entrance had once been.

Whom would you add to the list? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Read more from Mike Chin at his website and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.