Colt Cabana, Johnny Valiant and Mick Foley parlayed their wrestling success into stand-up comedy acts.
Their Bizarro World would feature someone like Briley Pierce, a stand-up comic venturing into pro wrestling.
Pierce is one of the newer superstars with WWE NXT, the feeder group to WWE. He is different, but different is a good thing.
Wrestlers competing in sports -- amateur wrestling, basketball, baseball, football, track and/or weightlifting -- in high school and/or college is common. Comedy not so much.
Able to think quick on your feet, impromptu at times, with humorous qualities adds greatly to today’s version of a pro wrestler embarking on a career dubbed sports entertainment by WWE.
Comedy works for some in the ring and backstage like Santino Marella. Pairs can also develop funny moments like the combination of Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Funny in pro wrestling is nothing new. When Booker T and Goldust joined forces, they created many laugh-out-loud segments. Edge and Christian (with and without Kurt Angle) did the same. During WCW’s days, Disco Inferno and Norman Smiley elicited many smiles. Hey Jericho, don’t forget Ralphus.
Back in the day, Bugsy McGraw made a career in left field. I never knew what he meant, but he talked funny, looked funny and acted funny. He wore old school airplane headgear complete with goggles, well-manicured beard, shiny head and the Curley shuffle.
They were wrestlers first.
Born in Cleveland (like The Miz), Pierce participated in sports growing up, mainly amateur wrestling. He played rugby in college, but his focus turned to acting, comedy, theater and writing. He’s not the only one to background in the arts. Christopher Daniels experienced the theater, performance art, prior to wrestling. Daniels, like Pierce, moved to Chicago, but Daniels planned to become an actor. Master Thespian. Pierce a comedian. Maybe one day Saturday Night Live.
Well, now it’s World Wrestling Entertainment.
“I’m still working on the microphone stuff, too, [in WWE NXT], but the improv background helped a lot,” Pierce said. “I found the entertainment aspect way more natural than the physical part. It’s like no other sport. I was an amateur wrestler. I played rugby, but there’s nothing like professional wrestling. It’s totally different.”
While Pierce tried his material in comedy clubs, classes and improvs, his older brother committed to sports entertainment, transitioning from cheerleading wrestler to wrestling wrestler.
His brother is WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler, and Ziggler’s elevated his game to become one of WWE’s top wrestlers and sports entertainers, ready to take the next step. Formerly Nicky of the Spirit Squad, a heel comedic cheerleading ensemble, Ziggler knows something about humor in wrestling. A wrestler first, he learned the importance of incorporating the entertainment element with his WWE cheering-mates, before being shipped to Louisville for repackaging.
A new look, a new persona and a new level of confidence and Dolph Ziggler climbed the ladder, literally, in WWE. Winning Money in the Bank is a testament to his development.
Pierce, 28, is developing to one day reach WWE status.
“Being a part of NXT is almost indescribable,” Pierce said. “It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done anywhere, any capacity -- no matter school, sports -- anything. It’s nonstop, go, go, go, whether we’re training or at a show.