“Unstoppable,” “monster,” and “fall of humanity” were a few of the horrifying terms used to describe Brodus Clay before he made his re-debut last winter. What we got instead was a funky fedora-wearing, talon-bearing, dancing machine.
Who knew the fall of humanity would be so much fun?
I met up with the man from Planet Funk this past week at San Diego Comic Con. While there we discussed his debut swerve, his wrestling influences, and more…
Gordon Holmes: You kinda took the world by surprise when you debuted as the Funkasaurus a little over half a year ago. Seems like everyone was expecting you to come in as a no-nonsense, derriere kicker. What was your reaction the first time you were pitched the Funkasaurus idea?
Brodus Clay: Actually, I’m more like the Funkasaurus backstage then I was the angry dude. So, when the boss saw me like that he said, “Why don’t you just do that?” I looked at him like, “Are you crazy?” But, my biggest problem was the dancing because I don’t know where cracking jokes and smiling and being silly and stuff had anything to do with dancing. But somehow they came together. The hardest part was the dancing because I’m more of a wallflower than an actual dancer.
Holmes: And who’s responsible for the talons?
Clay: (Laughs) That was me. There was some influence on that “Teen Wolf” and “Thriller.” But I have talons where they had claws. And they are furry and I am not.
Holmes: The Funkadactyls are the nicknames for your lovely dancers, am I correct?
Clay: Yes, yes.
Holmes: Did they have any advice on any moves you should be trying out?
Clay: They do a lot of crazy stuff and I let them do their thing. And they give me a lot of hints and tips. But I tend to stick to the two things that I know that I can do well. I let them be the technicians of dance. Because Naomi used to dance for the Orlando Magic and Cameron used to dance in a lot of clubs. So between the three of us…those are dance clubs Cameron dances in. Like with her and her girlfriends.
Holmes: Gotcha. This is a family site.
Clay: Yes, let me rephrase.
Holmes: So, we’re not going to see any full-on splits from you?
Clay: If you do, you only get it once.
Holmes: Were you nervous that you weren’t giving the people what they were expecting? Because all of the previews were like, “Look out, Brodus Clay is gonna come getcha.”
Clay: We threw the old 360 on them. One of my big influences, the Road Dogg, he was in my ear quite a bit. And the waiting to debut was the toughest part. We were in Memphis and he says “It has to be here, it has to be in Memphis. You don’t want to go to Corpus Christie with this. They’re going to hate it!” And sure enough they decided not to go ahead with it. I looked at him and said, “Corpus Christie?” And he said, “They’re going to love it there!” But when I first came out, I went through that curtain and there were a lot of mouths wide open like they saw a car accident. Some fans had some choice words for me, thus coined the phrase, “My bad.” The fans yelled and me and I said, “My bad” and everyone kinda liked it. I was nervous but each week it got more and more comfortable and more and more of me started coming out.
Holmes: I was one of those people at home with my mouth open, until you said, “Shall I get him?”
Clay: (Laughs) Yeah.
Holmes: And then I was on board.
Clay: I was just feeling it out there. Nobody ever talks to the crowd. What’s wrong with that? If you’re going to trash talk, trash talk loud. Let them get involved in it. They’re great about letting you know.
Holmes: Bubba Ray Dudley used to yell at D-Von to get the tables. That kind of stuff was huge.
Clay: People would go nuts! And why not? We got away from that.
Holmes: Your character is so fun loving, is there any difficulty flipping the switch and turning up the intensity for a big match?
Clay: A perfect example is if you notice when the bell rings I become more serious and more aggressive. I think up until that point, that’s part of the confidence. Mohammed Ali used to do all that showmanship and clowning around before the bell rings. But when the bell rings it’s time to go to work.
Holmes: You mentioned the Road Dogg as someone who helps you out backstage. Who else do you look to for advice?
Clay: Double A (Arn Anderson), the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Fit Finlay, Dean Malenko, Jamie Noble, there’s quite a few. There are so many brains back there and everyone has their expertise. If I have a question about showmanship, I go to Road Dogg. And Triple H has made himself available and even the Big V, who is about as good a dancer as I am, is there for advice.
Holmes: The Big V?
Clay: Vince McMahon, the boss.
Holmes: For some reason I thought you were talking about Viscera.
Clay: Well, he did that smooth daddy thing for a while.
Holmes: And Vince swiped your moves for a bit.
Clay: When I was banned from Raw he did the dance with the ladies. And he did a good job.
Holmes: You’re not allowed to argue with the boss when he borrows your gimmick.
Clay: No, and he dances just a little bit worse than I do, so I’m OK with that. He didn’t reinvent the dance wheel that night. So I’m safe.
Holmes: So, Mattel just unveiled a new Brodus Clay action figure complete with all of your funky gear. What goes through your head when you see something you see in the mirror every day shrunk down to about six inches?
Clay: Um…wow! No way. Wow, this is really happening? I’m very excited as an action figure collector to have one of myself. It’s very humbling. I had to take a moment when I saw it.
Holmes: Your theme music makes a repeated request for someone to call your mama. How does the real Mama Clay feel about her son’s success?
Clay: She always wanted her son to be a biologist, so this is a tough transition for her. But she’s supportive. I think she likes it. She’s always telling me things I need to work on. She said, “Next time Big Show grabs your leg, you need to move.” I say, “OK mom, I’ll do that.” But you have to understand for her, ever since I was a kid my entire existence was wrestling. So, she’s kind of up to here with it.
Clay: I went to a magnet school. I was kind of a brainiac when it came to zoology and animals and stuff. And I’m still an Animal Planet, National Geographic buff to this day.
Holmes: I feel like you could make the argument for biology, archaeology, Funkasaurus…it’s all in the same ballpark.
Clay: (Laughs) It’s all connected.
Don’t miss the 1000th episode of WWE Monday Night Raw this Monday, July 23, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes