Pro Wrestling

Ring of Honor Lands Very Nice, Very Evil Diamond in the Rough

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“I love that Danhuasen” is what Dave Honor probably would say if he weren’t a figment of one’s twisted imagination, as Danhausen fulfilled his kayfabe commitment of winning a match for a contract before 2020 finished at Final Battle.

It is a very nice, very evil night for the Independent star. The Indy stalwart Donovan Danhausen has become one of the biggest Independent acts in the world in 2020, alongside his circle of friends WARHORSE, Allie Kat, Effy and Dan The Dad.

The days of wrestling being larger than life have seemingly gone away in recent years. The Independent Wrestling scene in the mid-2000s changed the industry forever, notably with Ring of Honor, as talents such as Danhausen’s personal favorites American Dragon and El Generico, as well as Paul London, James Gibson, Kevin Steen, The Kings of Wrestling and Nigel McGuiness brought a more realistic, in-your-face style into the mainstream. However, looking at today’s Independent Wrestling scene and seeing these five, while also having guys like Orange Cassidy going mainstream with AEW, at the forefront in a major way, reminds one of Corey Taylor’s line in Stone Sour’s Through Glass. “Before you tell yourself it’s just a different scene, remember it’s just different from what you’ve seen.” Larger than life personas aren’t anything new, they’re what brought our great sport to the focal point of pop culture in the first place. Terry Bollea didn’t have the best psychology in the world, nor did Ed Leslie, William Myers or Jim Hellwig. However, when Hulk Hogan overcame the odds to Hulk Up, when Brutus The Barber started chopping away at somebody’s beautiful locks, George “the Animal” Steele destroyed a turnbuckle pad or the Ultimate Warrior shook the ropes, it stood out. When they spoke as if they had just finished a line of cocaine (much like a WARHORSE style promo), their promos didn’t make the most sense in the world, but they made you gravitate toward them.

Pro Wrestling needs its characters and its gimmicks. It’s a time-honored tradition that these five have brought back and been extremely successful with. The WARHORSE has made national headlines all year, and WARHAUSEN (and Allie Kat) recently had their own comic brook hit stores. But, not too far behind WARHORSE is his real-life best friend Danhausen, whose character couldn’t be anymore opposite from a guy who would prefer to put on Iron Maiden’s “Be Quick or Be Dead” track while swearing every other word. Danhausen, rather, is a persona that wants to be evil. Danhausen, who now has merchandise inside of a retail chain such as Hot Topic, has put together an incredible character. Picture Mr. Burns from the Simpsons meets Conan O’Brien and they merge with The Joker. But, the brilliance of the character is that at its core, Danhausen isn’t actually evil whatsoever. Danhausen won’t ever swear! Danhausen has a heart of gold, but sees being evil as a way to make sacks of “human monies.” Danhausen thinks that he has everybody fooled, yet at his most vulnerable, he is the most wholesome dude in the room. It’s as if a little kid is playing dress up and wants to be so much like his idols but he just doesn’t have it in him. But, when he puts on the face paint and the cape, he’s what he always wanted to be. In a way, he’s pro wrestling’s Heinz Doofenshmirtz: a great person who due to their past trauma, tries so hard to be jaded because society tells them one thing, but when they’re themselves their the antithesis of what they’re perceived to be. He is very nice and very evil. When WARHORSE does something big, the initial reaction is an exciting “DID YOU WIN?” because he wants WARHORSE to be as successful as WARHORSE can be. Danhausen values the people around him, even if he’d never admit it. Despite all of the macabre paint making him look like Elvira’s long-lost child, he’s not Jack Nicholson in the 1989 Batman, he rather just broadened his mind and said that’s who he wants to be. The character arc couldn’t be anymore perfect for the skillset of Danhausen. Danhausen is as if Pee Wee Herman tried to be Vincent Price.

Danhausen is one of the most popular social media acts in the business today, being an excellent content creator. Donovan’s ability to put himself out there without shame is indelible to the persona in the best way fathomable. For example, his lovely significant other LouLou is a real-life burlesque dancer. Over the pandemic when IWTV did their talent show, Danhausen used her wardrobe to do a burlesque dance to Tequila! His Twitter, @DanhausenAD, is a treasure trove for entertaining videos, which has gained him a large following over the last two years as he’s come into his own. He even used the character to campaign for a ROH contract, which he received on Halloween (unless we’re talking kayfabe, in which he received it tonight).

How’s his in ring work? Let’s be honest: he’s not prime Kurt Angle when the bell rings, but literally nobody in wrestling history was quite as good as prime Kurt Angle. Danhausen is athletically gifted, but works in the context of the character. He works a somewhat more methodical pace but will do things as the context of the match calls for it. Take tonight, for example…

This isn’t the most innovative spot we’ve ever seen. Watch one Lita match and you’ve seen it. However, for Danhausen’s character it worked so much better than a move you’ve never seen before. The way he’s surprised that it worked and his reaction is fantastic when considering the story as it’s out of the character’s comfort zone. His mannerisms are down to a tee. His selling is outstanding. With Danhausen less is more. For Ring of Honor, they’ve gotten an extremely popular talent that has a unique appeal. While Danhausen could still improve in some areas, he’s constantly improving.

It’ll be interesting to see how the character appeals on television and how many dimensions there are to the gimmick. But for now, congratulations to a great performer and even better human being. P.S. UP YOURS!

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