Voiceless In professional wrestling, it’s almost universally considered a necessity for wrestlers to get interview time. Talking themselves up as the best in the business, discussing how much they hate their rivals… it’s as common as the actual wrestling itself. A good wrestler is said to be able to talk the fans into the building. Ric Flair bragged about his lavish lifestyle and how he’d outwrestle Dusty Rhodes. It’s hard to imagine how Flair, Dusty, Jake Roberts, Hogan or Savage would have turned out had they been granted zero opportunities for interviews. But then there are those who take a road far less traveled. The road of silence. Sometimes we get wrestlers who willingly choose not to talk at all, or very little. At first glance, this seems like lunacy. Sure, it can be difficult for some, but most think it’s essential to the game. Bret Hart wasn’t the best talker, but he still had to talk. In a business where you need to dare to be different, some refuse to pick up a microphone. Some willingly choose to be voiceless. In ECW, Sabu was a wild, crazy man hell bent on hurting other people, even if it meant sacrificing his body in the process. Flying through tables, jumping off chairs, wrestling with barbed wire that left visible scars on him, he’d do anything. Anything except verbally berate his opponents. Except for extremely rare and brief occasions (not counting his WWE run), he was never allotted time to do talk up his feuds (Paul Heyman eventually gave him a manager) But in exchange, his character gained a mysterious aura. We were left with questions as to what exactly was running through his mind, and his extreme violence and all around uncontrollable nature answered those some of those questions. Before Kane’s character started speaking, he had impaired vocal cords and only spoke on rare occasions with an electronic device. At first he had his kayfabe father, Paul Bearer, by his side to help develop angles on the microphone. But after they split on screen, for periods of time Kane was a quiet solo act. He relied on his actions in the ring to tell the story. You could sense by how he moved if he was angry. Sometimes you knew he was emotional, by showing displays of compassion towards fallen friends (X-Pac). But through it all, there was just a lingering question over his character as to what was running through his mind. He gave the answers in the ring, not to Michael Cole. And while the lack of interview time does create an intriguing aura to a voiceless wrestler, they do have a hindrance that characters surrounding him will need to make up for. Last winter, Sting made his first appearance on WWE television and ended the Authority (temporarily). He did so without saying a word, as he was silent in all his WWE appearances until the go home Raw before WrestleMania. Commentators needed to explain to us that he was a vigilante, to clarify a picture we sort of already saw. Paul Heyman said Sting could say more with his actions than most wrestlers could in a twenty minute promo. But truth be told, those actions can’t say everything. Triple H needed to carry the verbal side of things, to make it less vague on at least one side. But through it all, Sting’s lack of words left us on the edge of our seat wondering what his motivations were, why he did what he did. We didn’t know much about him, and I feel once he did his first real WWE promo, most of the aura vanished. Obviously managers can be a valuable tool for silent wrestlers. As stated before, Paul Bearer did a lot of speaking for Kane. And while we wondered what Kane was all about, we could get some of the answers by looking at Paul Bearer. They had a partnership where Paul basically controlled Kane and made him do whatever he wanted. In a way, Kane’s incentives were to do whatever his father wanted him to do. Paul Bearer and longtime rival/ally Undertaker explained to all of us what Kane’s background was, and we knew he was unable to speak because of his impaired vocal cords, and was somewhat mentally disturbed. Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler did a great job of constantly describing the kayfabe environment that surrounded Kane. George “The Animal” Steele did a famous storyline in the eighties where he was infatuated with Randy Savage’s valet, Miss Elizabeth. George’s character had trouble speaking because he was mentally deficient. But through the broken sentences and sporadic words he put together, and the tone of voice he would use, we could tell he was a good hearted person. He would say “…pretty…” when shown a picture of Miss Elizabeth, and through various other actions, we understood he can a crush on the first lady of wrestling. He didn’t fully explain it, because he couldn’t, but we understood it. And just like in the Triple H/Sting program, Macho Man needed to carry a lot of the storyline in his own right. He conveyed his intense jealousy and possessiveness, and he did that mostly through his interviews, through his words. Yokozuna was a physically imposing human being, to say the least. Weighing over six hundred pounds, he manhandled many preliminary wrestlers with ease. But to the best of my knowledge, he never spoke a word besides “Banzai!”. His character was Japanese, and did not speak English. He had Mr. Fuji with him who could break the language barrier for him, and communicate for him to the audience. Jim Cornette, though he didn’t speak Japanese, could do the same. Yokozuna had a somewhat mysterious aura to him as well, and we understood him through his actions. He was deathly afraid of the Undertaker because he ran away from him, looking terrified. He was sick and tired of how Jim Cornette treated him and eventually wanted payback, and we understood that through the anger on his face, and giving the Banzai Drop to a dummy dressed like Cornette. But while they aren’t given mic time and their silence can make up for it, what can’t be made up for is their push, or lack of attention in the product. The Lucha Dragons don’t get mic time, maybe because they don’t speak English, but they don’t really have the same marketable aura that guys like Yokozuna had. People like Sabu, Sting, Kamala, etc. were hyped up in promotional packages and commentators spent a great deal of time discussing them. Without a that of focus from the company, voiceless wrestlers are in a seriously tough position. Most wrestlers, even those the promotion deemphasizes, can get a break once in a while by saying something interesting in their brief interview time. Villano #2 in WCW didn’t get those chances. When I first watched the video for Welcome To The Jungle, before I knew who Guns N Roses was, the most intriguing band member in the video was their to me was their lead guitar player. Wearing a wife brimmed top hat and sunglasses, with his head tilted down and his long hair hanging forward, his face looked like a shadow. I understood the lead singer, as he belted out the screeching lyrics "Welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games...", but the lead guitarist, to me, was surrounded by mystery. His name is Slash, and he obviously he didn’t sing in the video, and neither did any other band members. Slash got the most attention of anyone besides Axl, and I feel to me that made him more interesting. If there were few screen shots of him, he probably would have become an afterthought, and the mysterious aura surrounding him would be an afterthought as well. WCW hyped up Sting week after week in 1997, and while there were plenty of foreign wrestlers on their roster who didn’t speak, they didn’t get nearly the air time Sting did. He didn’t say a word that year, he simply stared blankly, pointed baseball bats and attacked the nW.o. But he needed the attention he got to become as marketable as he was that year. It’s relatively rare in wrestling we get characters who willingly don’t speak, despite getting strong pushes. Some may do it because they are too crazy and uncontrollable to speak, like Sabu. Some physically couldn’t, like Kane. Others couldn’t speak English, and others simply had a serious, somewhat depressive nature to them where they chose to be silent, like Sting. Whatever the case may be, in most instances a mysterious aura is formed around these characters. What goes through their minds? What do they think and feel? We need to learn that not only through their actions, but through the people surrounding them. Commentators, their rivals, their allies, their managers if they have one. And above all else, that mysterious aura is only marketable when it gets focus from the company, with Sting in 1997 being a prime example. They are the few, the rare, the enigmatic… the voiceless.