In the world of professional wrestling, having a beautiful woman accompany talent to the ring can take someone to the next level. Sometimes that woman coming to the ring is the only reason anyone would be interested in the match in the first place. In some cases she can be as great of a manager as some of the guys such as Bobby Heenan and Jim Cornette. However, there are cases where the valets go over and become fan favorites and the talent is lost in the shuffle and often out of the company.
In the 80s, Miss Elizabeth was the eye candy for every man. While men already envied Macho Man Randy Savage’s athleticism, Miss Elizabeth gave them something else to want to take from Savage. Though he was a veteran in the ring, adding Elizabeth took him over the top. With Macho Man coming often having a napoleon complex being a small guy in the land of giants, having Elizabeth made this work. When he would get in trouble, the first thing he would do was use her as a shield to protect him. When Savage made a face turn, having Elizabeth still worked because you wanted to root for success and happiness with the two. But Savage would constantly evolve throughout his career and make sure that Elizabeth never outshine him. Savage made sure that he stood out and that his promos were cutting edge. You may have wanted to look at Elizabeth while she was ringside, but when Savage was inside, you could not take your eyes off the action.
As we go into the 1990s, a young star who would go to become the greatest superstar in the history of the WWE, Shawn Michaels broke into his singles career after turning on his best friend Marty Jannetty. But as Michaels, who had a playboy type gimmick, the way to make this translate with the fans was to pair him with a woman. Michaels was paired with Sensational Sheri. He went from a young high flying tag team wrestler, to a heartbreak kid. With Sherri singing his theme music, carrying a mirror for him and reminding him how sexy he was, there was no doubt that when they went their separate ways, Michaels would remain on top, because he was just as entertaining outside the ring as he was inside.
While Savage and Michaels went on to become icons in the business, everyone would not have the same success. In 1996, WWE signed Marc Mero to huge contract. Though they were losing Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Johnny B. Badd who was a solid WCW mid carder was expected to come into the WWE and take his career to the next level. At WrestleMania XII, Mero did a backstage interviewing letting the audience know he was ready to light the WWE on fire. During that Interview, Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H), who had just lost to the Ultimate Warrior was scolding his valet for that day. That valet was Sable. Mer took exception and he and Helmsley quickly got into in it and Sable would later join him.
As WWE was transitioning into the attitude era and the women were becoming “divas,” Mero quickly became lost in the shuffle. He struggled to hold on, but the people wanted to see Sable. And although turning him on her and having the two go at each other’s throats would be the eventual direction, people wanted to see Sable. Arguably she was the hottest woman in pop culture. Mer was no like Savage and Michaels, no one cared what he did in the ring. Sable went on to become the first WWE diva to grace the cover of Playboy, where she set records and on many nights she was the most over person on the roster.
In 2011 Brodus Clay made his WWE debut as Alberto Del Rio’s NXT protege. Del Rio would have Clay serve as his mentor but after Extreme Rules he disappeared for a few months. Not being seen on Raw or Smackdown, in December many vignettes started promoting his return. In January 2012, Brodus Clay debuted, but he was no longer a monster, instead he was a Funkasaurus. He would be accompanied by The Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron). The Funkadactyls came out every week and even though Brodus was dancing and engaging with the audience, Naomi and Cameron were eye candy. As they began to involve and wrestle, fans clearly became more interested in them, instead of a dancing dinosaur.
In 2013, E! debuted Total Divas, a reality show based on the WWE divas. On this show, fans were able to really see the personalities of Naomi and Cameron. For Brodus Clay, he was losing momentum. He would be paired with Tensai and he two of them would be called Tons of Funk, but seeing two 300 pounders dance became less entertaining than seeing one. With Total Divas becoming the number one show on E!, there was no doubt that Brodus Clay would not be missed.
As we look ahead, the next person in danger of losing to their valet or his case valets is Adam Rose. Rose having a party man gimmick has made him entertaining. He originally came to the ring always looking to have a good time and entertain the fans. As a face he was always say, “Don’t be a lemon, be a rosebud!” But Rose went on a losing streak which would cause a change of attitude. Rose even became abusive to the male rosebuds. A little under a year ago, seeing Adam Rose was exciting, now its more about seeing which rosebud will be a local worker from the town they are performing in.
Recently on wwe.com, there was a picture gallery inviting fans to meet the rosebuds. To me, this sounds like they are eventually looking to find talent from the rosebuds. If Rose does not evolve and find a way to connect with the crowd, he could be the next victim of Gimmick Failed, Valet Success. After all, WWE Hall of Fame diva Lita did appear as one of the Godfather’s hoes.