Squandered Talent. You hear it often. Should Mr. Perfect or Million Dollar Man have been champions? Rick Rude? Jake “The Snake” Roberts? Did WWE squander a superstar with the poor booking of Asuka? No. I’ve debunked that. How could WWE not see Bayley as pure money?! Just untrue.
How about younger guys who have shown flashes? Did Apollo Crews not get enough of a chance? Why is EC3 being booked like he sneezed in front of Vince McMahon? Should John Morrison have been hot-shotted to the top title?
These are easy names to throw out and wonder what could’ve been. But in my mind, when I think of performers who weren’t given a proper chance, only one name comes to mind.
Yes, you heard me. Bo Dallas. This is not a satire post.
Have you ever not enjoyed a Bo Dallas segment in your life? The answer is “No, ‘Cowboy’ Bob, I have not never enjoyed a Bo Dallas segment in my entire life, now that you brought it up.”
Known as “The NXT Champ That We Like To Leave Out of Takeover Montages”, Bo Dallas had, and still has, the raw tools to become something great.
Bo Dallas, The Motivational Speaker
When I talk about the potential of Bo, I specifically mean the “Motivational Speaker” character. Don’t get me wrong, I perk up whenever a B-Team segment comes on (and I’ll get to this in a little bit), but the motivational speaker was fucking money. Besides praising Shane-O-Mac, this is the other hill in my wrestling life I am willing to die on.
The character is a motivational speaker who is consistently condescending, annoying and irritatingly positive. First of all, we all hate motivational speakers in life. We look at them and think “Why the fuck are you so happy? And why do you think you have all the answers? I’m perfectly content in life” as we fire up NBA2k19 and scream “WHAT THE FUCK” at an animated Dirk Nowitski from the 2003 Mavericks missing another fadeaway. Or maybe that’s just me.
What makes the character even better is the look. It’s Bo, hilariously chubby in plain white tights which really just look like tighty-whitey undies. Like why is this dude, so obviously out of shape, lecturing me on getting my life together?
Not only that, the character works whether you’re booking him strong or weak. During his 10-and-BO era, his celebrations over cheap wins were laugh-out-loud funny.
However, even on a losing streak, the character works. You’re borderline obese, you never win any matches yourself, and you’re standing around in your tighty-whities lecturing me on life?
As a comedic character, you don’t need me to tell you: Bo Dallas is fucking hilarious.
Titus O’Neil slaps the shit out of the mic, but of course naive Bo thinks he dropped it himself. “Silly me, Mr. Butterfingers!” Because in Bo’s mind, who could possibly not want Bo’s advice?
One of my favorite moments though that I never see repeated is a segment right after Undertaker defeated Brock Lesnar at Summerslam in 2015. Bo came out and said something to the effect of “Brock Lesnar, you had a very special dream. A dream where you actually thought you could BEAT the Undertaker!” Like, what character in their right mind would say that to Brock Lesnar, right after he is obviously pissed off at the shenanigans-style loss to a heated rival the night before? It makes Bo come off as so tone-deaf, so ignorant, that it borders on mentally challenged.
And it’s fucking hilarious.
However, there’s another aspect to this character that never got any proper attention. The psychotic aspect.
My favorite subtle part of Bo Dallas matches was when the character got frustrated that things were not going so well. Maybe it exposed the reality that Bo isn’t as great as he tells himself he is.
The way Bo was able to shift from silly happy-go-lucky ignorant Bo to angry, psychotic Bo was very unsettling in the best way. I always thought he could harness this to be a great Wyatt family member with his also awesome brother, Bray.
These are character aspects that went largely unexplored. Is Bo Dallas just a total sociopath? Or flat out psychopath?
Or is he really just innocent, good old Bo?
None of this was expanded upon, because WWE didn’t have the patience for whatever reason. (but we have 4 full months of TV time to all pretend Kofi Kingston is a legitimate champion. But whatever.)
Think back to jobbers who never made it. Does Apollo Crews have this many fond memories or character quirks you can cite? Did Val Venis? Hardcore Holly? Think back to “forgotten” low card acts. How many had this much personality or layers to a character?
Not unlike the phenomenal R-Truth, Bo adapts. He takes your shit storyline and booking, and he makes it work somehow.
He wasn’t even terrible in the ring either. The only real evidence we have is an NXT Takeover match in 2014 versus Neville, in which he was a key part of a perfectly fine ladder match. I don’t know how he’d do in an actual longterm program, but the guy showed he can hang with elites enough to be carried, at least.
Miztourage & The B-Team
After a bizarre mini-push on Raw when he was beating up jobbers for a few weeks, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were teamed up to be lackeys for The Miz. They both did excellent work. Curtis isn’t as talented as Bo, but he tries hard, and he has his moments.
Both were constantly in fun segments with Miz, who was at the apex of his heel powers, and helped garner them enough sympathy to form The B Team.
The A-Team was copyrighted, so Bo said The B Team would be good because it stands for “The Best Team”.
In a shining moment for Bo fans everywhere, or maybe just “Cowboy” Bob, this team gained enough steam that they actually (and deservedly) won the tag team titles. Their “holy FUCK did we just WIN A MATCH?!?!” celebrations after every victory were highlights of Raw weekly.
Like much of Bo’s career, this was abandoned for really no reason. The team was over. The crowds loved it. There was a place for it on TV. Who didn’t like the B-Team?
Will We Ever Get To Just Say Bo?
I firmly believe Bo Dallas was always ahead of his time. As I’ve spoken about previously in my Shane blog, WWE for too long in recent years were trying to produce “cool” heels. Heels that had funny lines. Heels that were bad-asses. It resulted in years and years of babyfaces being booed and heels getting monster pops.
Shane and Baron Corbin are showing shifts away from that. Being that we don’t have a Rock, Stone Cold or even a Chris Jericho to lean on, we need heels that are not capable, or purposely trying, to put themselves over instead of the babyface.
If Bo Dallas wanted to, he could dust off that motivational speaker, have a run with the Intercontinental Title, and take whatever middling babyface you want to prepare for the heavyweight belt and get him where he needs to be.
There are certain wrestlers who can only work in one type of setting. Roman Reigns can only be effective as a dominating bad-ass, never an underdog. The Miz can only be a heel. Jeff Hardy can only play a babyface. Cesaro and Bayley can’t be allowed near microphones.
Bo Dallas takes whatever role you give him – hilarious comedy jobber, hatable heel, sympathetic babyface, psychopath – and knocks it out of the park. He’s a utility player that WWE has never used to full strength in about 5 full years.
Lately, he’s not on TV at all. What a crying, fucking shame. You get prime hours of TV that were devoted to Lisp Sullivan. You get the 25 minute weekly “Damn life is crazy man, wow” Kofi promo. You get 6 man filler tags until your eyeballs roll into your skull.
But nothing for a loyal worker like Bo who has proven to you that he can work a crowd and do his job well.
Develop a character. Let the man work. Give him a real storyline. See what he does.
Can he go from jobber in his undies to the top title after 5 full years of shitty booking?
I don’t know. But as the song goes in the animated classic The Prince of Egypt:
There can be miracles, when you BO-lieve.