Forget "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Give me "Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah!"
That's the wacko hillbilly battle hymn of Luke Harper, general of WWE's Wyatt Family. And with all due respect to Daniel Bryan, the big man just may be the promotion's next big thing.
For many reasons.
First, the most irrational one: Harper, real name Jon Huber, is a native of Rochester, my hometown. So there's that.
But now for the real talk: Harper is already one of the best big-man wrestlers WWE has. And in just a couple years, he could be one of their only ones.
With Kane, Big Show, Khali and Mark Henry all north of 40 and nearing retirement, not a lot of guys taller than six-foot-five and heftier than 260 pounds will be left prowling the WWE landscape. There's Brock Lesnar, but I don't see him adding more to his three-match-a-year deal. There's Brodus Clay, but his character would need severe reconstructive surgery — dinoplasty? — to be seen as a threat. And there's Harper's Wyatt Family brother Erick Rowan, but that oaf hasn't shown nearly the ring prowess Harper has.
That's really been Harper's strong suit, too. Freakish, daunting presence is always good, but big men still have to throw down between the ropes. Harper most definitely can, as we saw this week in his trio of impressive matches with CM Punk (Raw), Daniel Bryan (Smackdown) and Kassius Ohno (NXT — and I'll be getting to Ohno's recent release later this week on the Powerbomb Post).
Sure, that's an indy wrestling dream circuit, but Harper did plenty to share the credit. Most laudably, the guy wrestles like his character. He just keeps coming at his opponents, slugging them with brutal discus clotheslines and uppercuts. His most sophisticated attack is a lying front facelock, and even that he twists into character work, calling it the Gator Roll and rolling guys around the ring like some swamp brute's plaything. Then there's that haunting phrase of his, which you can already hear NXT audiences rattling right along with him.
Many of us would love to see the Bryans of the world dominating WWE, and certainly they've made strides in Vince McMahon's circus that were once unimaginable. But the reality is that big men will always get the first look — and when they're as good as Luke Harper, I can't complain.