Happy Friday TJR faithful, and welcome to a brand spanking new edition of A Matter Of Character. I haven’t done one of these in a while, mostly because I had gone through most of the characters on the roster. Now that we are seeing them cycle more characters into NXT, I have more people to write about and quite frankly, there are some characters I’d like to revisit when the time is right.
This week I couldn’t help but think about the curious case of Solomon Crowe. He was without a doubt one of the most anticipated debuts for NXT. People couldn’t wait to see what the former Sami Callihan would do once he made it on the air. People had heard about a hacker gimmick that was being used on the NXT House Show circuit, and couldn’t wait to see what was in store for Dean Ambrose’s indie tag team partner. In February of this year, he finally debuted as a very watered down version of the hacker we had all heard about, and has since underwhelmed. It’s not really his fault, as he hasn’t been given much to do.
This week I will take a closer look at why this unique superstar with loads of potential, simply isn’t clicking. I’ll examine how they’ve watered down what could have been a solid gimmick if fully realized, and outline the simple fix for the Solomon Crowe character that will make him one of the most relevant and topical characters on the NXT brand. Let’s do this!
Solomon Crowe has a unique look and physical style. He’s a shorter guy (only listed at around 5’10) who doesn’t really fly around the ring despite his name being Crowe. He’s a stocky brawler who brings the fight right to you. His movements inside the ring are unpredictable because they’re so odd in their execution. The way that he bounces off the ropes, the way that he uses all his limbs as offensive weapons, even the way he gets his hand raised after a victory, are all slightly off from how you’d expect somebody to perform those actions. He truly is a unique, disjointed oddball, which is intriguing to watch in it’s own way.
Taking one look at him, it’s easy to see that he’s not like everybody else. From his physical stature to his hairstyle to his ring gear, there isn’t really anybody in the WWE like him right now. He looks like a bizarre character that walked right out of the Mario Brothers Movie from the 90s. While I usually applaud eccentric characters with unique looks, I can’t say that this one is clicking with me. I really like parts of his look, but there are things about it that put me off. I really dig the ring gear and the hair style, but I’m not a fan of the studded leather jacket. At the and of the day while I’m slightly intrigued by his outlandish physical appearance and physicality, he hasn’t captivated me, which is most important.
Solomon Crowe has a lot of a charisma and personality, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to see it focused into a well developed character or story. On his first night he comes out with his hacker-lite entrance, messing up the various screens in the arena, he beats a guy up and then he says his awful catchphrase “We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming”. He’s since cut promos about wanting to win the NXT Title, insulting Kevin Owens, and most recently about winning the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team Tournament. All these promos are standard fare for wrestling, but when are we going to learn about Solomon and his personality?
We see that he has a charisma to him, but all he gets to channel it towards right now is being eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. If you were going to have his character debut as hacker adjacent, then they should have committed to the whole hacker thing. At least in that case he could showcase his personality with a specific direction and character. As it stands, the character he plays is all over the place.
WORDS AND ACTIONS
If you ask me, the WWE really dropped the ball on scaling back the hacker gimmick for Solomon Crowe. Not only would that kind of character be interesting and relevant in today’s age (hell NXT is a show on an online network!) but given the success of the TV series Mr. Robot this summer, which airs on the USA Network (the same network that runs Raw on Monday nights), the WWE had the chance to be ahead of the curve for once. They usually debut or introduce things way after they become cool, and this was a rare chance to be ahead of the game and they blew it.
As it stands now, Crowe just messes up screens when he enters the arena. Other than that what does he really do? He debuted in February and feuded with CJ Parker for a week. He had a match with Kevin Owens after that, he teamed with Neville this week on NXT. There’s no direction for his character, and what he says and does reflects that perfectly.
The character is lost, and at least going full hacker with the gimmick, could have given him an ideology and a purpose. It’s been months and he hasn’t yet been featured on a TakeOver Show or been involved in a feud or rivalry of any kind. Something isn’t clicking despite him being one of the most unique and highly touted names they brought in from the indies. Fans want to love him, but they haven’t given us or Solomon Crowe anything to sink our teeth into.
I said this back when I first started writing these columns, and it still rings true today for most characters in the WWE. Motivation is the most important building block of an interesting character. What motivates a character to wake up day after day and do what they do? What do they want out of life? And in the case of the WWE, their wrestling career? Yes everybody wants to be champion, but beyond that, what do they want? Do they have a message you want to be heard? Do they need to fight to fill a hole in their lives? So on an so forth. Characters should have clearly defined motivation and goals, so of course 90% of the characters in the WWE don’t. They skip over the most fundamental part of character building, often mistaking a gimmick for motivation.
A gimmick can manifest itself from the motivations and desires of the character, but those need to be established. I tend to think that the WWE dropped the all out hacker gimmick for Crowe because they didn’t see it as a flashy enough gimmick. For me, it’s a great gimmick if you establish the motivation behind it. I would have been all in on a Solomon Crowe character that hated the phoniness of society, and the WWE. He hacks to expose the realities of those in the WWE; to peer behind the well polished veneers that everyone hides behind. He exposes people’s truths, and then fights them, because at his core, he can’t stand the fakeness of the “Real World”.
Conflict comes easy to a character that exposes the secrets of people. Anybody exposed by him would want to kick his ass, which would get him into rivalries very easily. I also appreciate that a character like the one I’m proposing would be active in creating conflict instead of passive, waiting for conflict to come his way.
A character like this would also have some deep seeded internal conflict. His hatred of fake people would be a standard case of projection, because in order to exist among the fakeness of reality, you need to be a bit phoney yourself, and Solomon Crowe would hate that about himself.
Going forward something needs to change for Solomon Crowe. They need to make him a more integral pert of NXT. I wouldn’t mind seeing him turn heel by attacking a beloved NXT character. Then he could wrestle with a meaner streak than he could as a babyface. He’s a really good brawler that if allowed to be mean spirited a vicious, could really be a solid heel for the NXT roster.
I’d start delving deeper into where he came from. Tell us about him having a tough upbringing. Tell us about him being a smaller dude all his life, about getting picked on, about what he would do to those that bullied him. Slowly unveil a sociopathic disregard for the lives of people he dislikes. Have him tell us how much he hates fake people living in their fake bubbles. Make his hatred of fake reality a significant part of his character and go from there. Make him pop the fake bubbles of those in NXT. Have him expose their secrets anonymously, before he finally unveils that he is behind the leaked information. It’s a topical character full of potential. Crowe deserves something to really immerse himself in. This is that kind of story and character, and he would more that likely do a great job.
There you have it folks, but as always I want to know what you think! Are you in or out on the Solomon Crowe character right now? Is it salvageable? What changes would you make to improve the character? Would the full out hacker gimmick have worked if they didn’t water it down?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying that if you haven’t watched Mr. Robot yet, you should! Have a great weekend everybody!