WWE loves a lot of things, but one of its favorites is to remind you of how great things used to be. The company absolutely loved the idea of promoting its history and showcasing its legends, but at the same time, they are not always the most efficient at making it work. For some reason, WWE likes the idea of trotting legends out there, having them do almost the same things every time, and then putting them back in storage. There are better ways to do something like that, and now we are seeing one of those better ideas played out in NXT.
In what is perhaps the best story going today, NXT’s Cameron Grimes has been feuding with the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. Grimes recently acquired a lot of money and tried to buy everything ala DiBiase back in the day, but DiBiase himself showed up to thwart him at every turn. This has included renting out an entire club and buying a house, causing Grimes to scream DiBiase’s name every time in a funny moment.
That’s about it. That’s the entirety of their feud so far, and yet it has been tremendously entertaining (which I assure you has nothing to do with DiBiase being the greatest villain I’ve ever seen). NXT has put things together as perfectly as they could have and it has turned into something pretty great because they did things exactly as they should have. There are a few elements to this, and that is what we are going to be taking a look at this week.
First of all is the introduction of Grimes’ new character. In real life, Grimes made money off of the recent GameStop stock ordeal and is suddenly doing rather well financially. That alone is an intriguing twist, so NXT did what you should do in that situation: tie it into his character’s story. In addition to being more interesting than pretty much anything the creative department was going to come up with for Grimes, it is the kind of story that Grimes himself can tell. How many people are know how a redneck from North Carolina who came into a lot of money would react? Grimes certainly would.
That’s where NXT made the right decision: they didn’t change Grimes’ character as much as adjust it accordingly. This wasn’t One Man Gang suddenly realizing that he’s African or Bradshaw suddenly remembering that he was a stock market guru. This was “what if Grimes was rich”. That opens up a lot of doors to all kinds of other places, as Grimes isn’t a different person, but rather the same person doing something different.
This is the kind of thing that makes the first part work. Grimes already has a persona that only he is going to be able to make work. The foundation has already been put in and fans have responded to what he is doing. It would be a huge waste of time and effort, not to mention a gamble, to try and switch things up for a completely different direction and try something new. If this didn’t work out, they could simply say that Grimes ran out of money and have things go back to where they were before without making it look like everything went badly. It’s a shift rather than a jump, which leaves NXT looking smart and offering an out.
Then you have the DiBiase factor, which is not so much a brilliant idea but rather recognizing the obvious. DiBiase is one of the most famous names in WWE history and has one of the most recognizable characters you’ll find in the company (for the laugh alone). Grimes suddenly having money but not knowing how to spend it is tailor made for DiBiase and NXT capitalized on it. Why bring in someone who wouldn’t fit as well when you have DiBiase, who is absolutely perfect for the same thing?
This shows you how much good you can get out of having such an easy to identify character like DiBiase. Despite not appearing on WWE television regularly in about twenty five years, anyone can get the idea in a hurry: he’s rich, he likes throwing his money around, and he laughs at people when he gets what he wants. That is something that almost anyone can identify with and depending on your level of nostalgia, you might want to see DiBiase get what is coming to him or see DiBiase continue to drive Grimes crazier and crazier every time.
Bringing in DiBiase was a perfect mixture of opportunity and recognizing what option you had right there in front of you. DiBiase is not someone who has been used over and over again over the years, as his appearances have been fairly sporadic since his retirement from a full time role. You haven’t seen DiBiase trotted out for one angle after another, as his appearances have often been the same thing: he comes in, he spends his money, and he leaves without overstaying his welcome.
That brings us to the next place where NXT has succeeded with the whole thing: they have kept things short and to the point. By the time you read this, DiBiase will have made four appearances with Grimes. These segments have been a few minutes long at most and DiBiase has yet to make an appearance in the Capitol Wrestling Center (at least as of the time of this writing). Just like the main roster appearances over the years, it has been all about getting in, doing something entertaining/memorable, and getting out again before you overstay your welcome.
As for where this goes in the future….I have no idea, and that is where things can get fun. Obviously DiBiase is not going to be getting back in the ring at 67 years old and not having wrestled a real match in the better part of thirty years. That leaves you with a few options, with the best of them likely being DiBiase paying off a surrogate to fight Grimes for him. Maybe even for the rest of Grimes’ money?
What makes that even better is NXT could pick almost anyone they wanted for the role. Who isn’t going to want a cut of what Grimes has, especially with the chance of a bonus from one of the richest people WWE has ever seen? NXT can take its time and pick whoever they want to get a rub out of this, and since this is NXT, there is a good reason to believe they will come up with something great.
Above all else, this feels like something that NXT has planned out way in advance and knows exactly where they want to go with the whole thing. NXT knows how to set things up for the long term and they seem to have done it again here. That is even more impressive when you factor in that the story was basically dropped into their lap. Imagine Monday Night Raw being given an opportunity like this. Assuming they even thought of DiBiase, how long would it be before Nia Jax wound up with the money or Lily used her powers to make it disappear?
This whole story has been well put together in the first place and so much of that has been due to how well the whole thing has been handled. NXT has turned what was little more than Grimes being successful in something outside of wrestling into a fun story which could go somewhere. Even if it doesn’t have some long form impact, it has given Grimes something cool to do and reintroduced the wrestling world to DiBiase. The latter alone is worth something, because the whole thing has been money.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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