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WWE’s Otis is the next pro wrestling sweetheart

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Give Otis all the championship gold.

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On Sunday, WWE aired its Money in the Bank pay per view featuring the eponymous match where multiple wrestlers fight for the company’s annual wild card: a briefcase hung above the ring that guarantees them a world championship match whenever and wherever they want.

The men’s field featured already-established superstars that have held hold before like the high-flying AJ Styles, the technical wizard Daniel Bryan, and the legendary Rey Mysterio. But in the end, the briefcase literally fell into the hands of a five-foot-ten, 330-lbs. man simply named Otis.

Seeing Otis win the Money in the Bank is unexpected, it’s not completely surprising. He can project as much charisma just by grunting word clusters and guffawing over a piece of protein than most others can in verbose backstage segments. He loves talking about meats and lifting weights. He even has a shirt that reads “HAM AND SLAM.” His sentences usually aren’t longer than four words, and half of those are “OH YEAH.” He’s shaped like a fire hydrant (that’s absolutely a compliment), and waddles around with the utmost confidence. The man glistens and we should all be jealous if we had an ounce of his swagger.

What is surprising is that Otis has almost exclusively been part of a tag team, Heavy Machinery, with his partner Tucker. He hasn’t faced off in many singles matches, but him winning the briefcase shows that WWE is confident in establishing new stars.

This is also happening at a time where WWE’s mainstay superstars aren’t appearing on a regular basis. Roman Reigns is away for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic, Brock Lesnar may not make his usual appearance without crowds, and Becky Lynch recently announced her pregnancy. That makes room for someone like Otis.

In one of WWE’s simplest and best moves, Otis was recently in a romantic storyline where he tried to earn the affection of his longtime crush Mandy Rose. As pro wrestling dictates, it didn’t come easy. Rose’s best friend interfered and complicated the matter with the help of Dolph Ziggler. But in the end, Otis got the girl, and that storyline culminated at WrestleMania. There wasn’t much to the storyline, and because of that it was one of the highlights of WWE’s annual show. His ability to tell one of the classic pro wrestling stories effectively may be what gave the higher ups at WWE the confidence to push him as the star in waiting.

Both WWE and their fans usually compare current wrestlers to those of the late 90s Attitude Era. If someone like Becky Lynch represents the anti-hero mystique that made Stone Cold Steve Austin so beloved, then Otis taps into the everyman aspect of The Texas Rattlesnake; Otis wants to live a life of simplicity, in his case that requires eating meat and lifting weights.

But more importantly, Otis is unapologetically himself. He’s not trying to be the prototypical WWE wrestler: a giant with chiseled abs who can become a movie action hero. Otis is a weight-lifting, meat-eating machine who got the girl of his dreams and is now a three-count away from becoming world champion. In a way, he’s the weird kid from grade school who refused to change for others, and now the entire class is noticing how wonderful he is. And who doesn’t want to root for that?