THE POWER OF THE PIN - Jan 15, 2023: I Keep On Dancing
Professional wrestlers over the years have been unafraid (and unashamed) to cut a rug from time to time... often with mixed results
There's something almost rhythmic about wrestling. Maybe it's the cooperation between the two performers, who always seem to describe their interactions in the squared circle as, 'a dance'.
That's a pretty accurate and expert account of what's occurring between these amazing athletes. It's an assembly of artistic expression, with the occasional few drops of blood thrown in, from time to time.
That may be why so many grapplers feel the need to show off some of their marvelous musical moves before, during, and after their matches. In fact, dancing can be just as much a part of some stars' acts as their actual in-ring action. It can even become the calling card that makes someone a mega-star and maybe even a WWE Hall of Famer.
Over the years, we've had everything from ballet to breakdancing, and funky to funny. Seeing a big, tough character crank up the amplifier inside their head is always entertaining. Sometimes, you're not sure if they would rather break a leg... or shake a leg.
The more the performers show their human side, the more relatable they are to the audience. It's something we have in common with these larger-than-life figures. Because after all? We've all at least played air guitar in the shower before.
For sports entertainers, dancing is the perfect way to bear their true selves - especially if it's really bad dancing.
Over the years, both legendary and forgettable names have incorporated a jump, jive, and jitterbug into their pro wrestling personas. Typically, it gets the wanted response from the crowd. Mostly, it's an excuse for some light-hearted moments that help break up the monotony of non-stop violence.
And just like guests at a wedding reception, everyone had their 'go-to' moves.
Koko B. Ware had his 'Birdman' dance, which he delivered in between Piledrivers. Freebird Michael P.S. Hayes went with the 'peacock' whenever the sounds of Badstreet U.S.A. came blaring over the PA system. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan pretended to be Jimmy Page as he grooved to the ring to the guitar blasts of 'Real American'.
The Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart, may bear some responsibility for all this hoofing. While he never did much jumping and jiving on WWE TV, he's got a musical background: He was a part of the 1960s pop group, The Gentrys. Their only big hit? Was called 'Keep On Dancing'.
Some of this boogying is almost unintentional. Over the years, Ric Flair's strut eventually morphed into some kind of spastic, Texas Two-Step when he really got fired up.
Dusty Rhodes, known for his 'blue-eyed soul', could get funky like a monkey with the best of them. Although often, right before he did... he would go into a slight trance. One where his back went incredibly straight and broad - as if someone had just slipped an ice cube down the back of his shirt.
Disco made a slight comeback in the late 90s, thanks to the tushy-shaking twists on WCW Monday Nitro, provided by Glen Gilbertti. Performing as The Disco Inferno, Gilbertti may have seemed like merely a comedy act to many, but he survived in the company for the long haul. And through his near-decade with World Championship Wrestling, his male stripper-Esque hip gyrations surely drew the attention of the female viewers.
(Also, he was a great example of what Aqua Net and a back pocket comb can really do for a man's hair.)
Ditto for Alex Wright, who went from Das Wunderkind to Das Arschschüttler. World Championship Wrestling took a second-generation, German teenage sensation and molded him into a bad version of a Chippendale dancer. Needless to say, this footloose fab didn't really register with the fans, no matter how many times the promotion tried to make it a hit.
WCW must have had a thing for dancing acts. Ernest Miller went from a karate killer who kicked people in the face to some kickin' moves in his blue suede shoes. He even got the chance to get down with James Brown, LIVE on pay-per-view! And I'm sure he 'Felt Good' about it!
Too Cool was a trio of gentlemen who brought a version of hip-hop line dancing to the sport. Rikishi stole the show, as he showed that a big man can really get his groove on if he wanted to. Sadly, Broadus Clay would come along a few years later and totally piss on that light of hope.
There were so many different styles of dance in this dangerous world of destruction. But few matched the street stylings of the Spinaroonie.
Booker T's breakdancing became so beloved, that it drove the faithful into a frenzy. Fans cheered for it, and the announcers happily called it. Every rotation symbolized another dose of joy and mirth within the WWE Universe.
That same love spread throughout the locker room, as some of the two-time Hall of Famers co-workers got in on this dance craze. Even such hallowed names as (believe it or not) Triple H, The Rock, Vince McMahon, and... The Undertaker(?)
TNA presented cage dancers, and WWE brought us Conga lines. And every single time, they found a way to dance right into our hearts, no matter how ridiculous the rhythm was.
That's probably because, as fans, we want to be able to make that connection with the wrestlers that we watch and admire. Yes, it is a form of entertainment that focuses on facades and keeping kayfabe. But that's why these relaxed, almost familial, moments stick with us. Seeing Vince McMahon or Lance Storm try to dance is akin to seeing tour Drunk Uncle try to do the Macarena at a family barbecue.
Sure it's probably going to be a trainwreck, but it will only add to the moment.
While there are thousands more wrestlers who have had the urge to boogie, that's the one thing that they all have in common. That they are able to lower the curtain (and sometimes even themselves) and allow themselves to be called on the carpet. In this case, literally.
So Shake, Rattle, and Roll with The Honky Tonk Man, and please feel free to walk With Elias. Don't be afraid to R.O.W.Y.C.O with Chris Jericho. Because all the world's a stage, in some form or another.
So? In the immortal words of Kevin Bacon?