Conor McGregor likes to run his mouth. Arguably a bit more than he is entitled to. Though it would seem that the entire WWE roster has enjoyed playing the current UFC Featherweight Champion at his own game. It makes you wonder if there could be something in the works.
After McGregor’s retirement spat prior to UFC 200, rumours of a WWE debut naturally made waves on the interweb. However, his leave from UFC was cut short. Almost as abrupt as his second-round submission loss to Diaz at UFC 196 in March.
Nevertheless, it’s been business as usual since his return, with typical shit stirring plus a little stylin’ and profilin’ (I’ll get there). McGregor wouldn’t be McGregor if he wasn’t capitalising on controversies in the sporting world and acting as a beacon of publicity. After comments made in a press conference for UFC 202, followed by a twist of the dagger on Twitter, WWE Superstars and professional wrestlers responded as only a wrestling fan would. For once, the IWC is united in protecting its precious baby, and it’s making for tremendous entertainment.
With the rematch set between McGregor and Diaz for UFC 202 August 20 in Las Vegas, one question is playing on the WWE Universe’s mind. All resent for the pro wrestling business aside – if he were to lose to Diaz at 202, will he jump ship to WWE?
John Kavanagh, McGregor’s head coach, admitted to The42 in a pre-fight blog, “There can be no excuses here if we don’t get the result we’re pursuing.” There could be more than reputation riding on this fight.
After Conor and the WWE roster went to war on Twitter, it’s not too difficult to envisage him slotting into the WWE, especially with the parade of change in the air. It might be a long shot, but what if?
Mystic Mac can fight, there’s no question of it. He’s become “Notorious” (I had to fit it in somewhere) for his innovative style of precision and good timing, both skills that a professional wrestler must acquire.
On the other hand, with a reluctant nod to his own words, it’s a completely different beast.
UFC and WWE are concurrently adapting stylistically out of pure necessity for change and growth, taking elements from each other’s presentation (consciously or unconsciously) to reach a broader audience. On UFC’s part, Conor paved the way for new entertainment psychology. Therefore, he has obvious laurels to rest on. Additionally, WWE is ever-so-slightly creeping away from the dark days of PG, what with regular testicle jokes and the sexualisation of brass instruments. Darker humour, moderated savagery – sounds like Conor’s cup of tea. With recent added perspectives to entertain a legitimate sporting concept; in-ring interviews, wrestler stats and more, the lure for skeptics is well in the works.
There is and always will be an emphasis on entertainment in professional wrestling, which should ultimately work in the favour of Conor.
Enzo Amore is a wizard of words. He’s been delivering some of his strongest promos in recent months, and he’s proving to be a huge flag bearer for what the notion of entertainment looks like in the New Era. Dare to put these two in a ring together – it probably won’t be a 5-star work rate match. Still, based on the potential dialogue and stage presence of these men as individuals, a collision of astronomical proportions will surely ensue. Two ridiculous egos with a natural foil effect in the same program, and I would gladly sit through 20-minute openers every week. “How you doin’ Conor?”
However, there is much more to consider. You can’t shy away from the importance of in-ring ability. Conor’s vast training background branching from various martial arts influences, matched with his enigmatic fluidity could turn him into an incredibly versatile little wrestler.
Little. He’s a featherweight. Or if you prefer, the size of Roman Reigns’ leg. In a world where weight class has become somewhat irrelevant, Conor could risk disappearing on the undercard. But he’s not destined to fail because he’s not the prototype big strongman/Braun Strowman type. We’re in the midst of a total transformation of the top tier. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins are our main event at Summerslam; one is a three-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, the other is a high-flyer at heart. That in itself speaks volumes. It all comes down to crowd connection.
There’s probably a handful of back-ups for McGregor. He could align with someone like Jericho and they could engage in riveting conversation about the exorbitant prices of their scarves and loafers. He could fly solo and reflect his imminent reality of being the most hated man on the WWE roster. This one’s probably a tad optimistic, but I can’t be the only one who still feels a little CM Punk-sized hole in the product.
If it all goes to shit, and Conor can’t perform in the ring to save his life, there’s a clear alternative that could work wonders. Make him a manager. McGregor talks. It’s what he’s best at. Whether there’s merit to his words is a matter of opinion, but in the WWE, that doesn’t matter.
There’s no question that he fits the bill. He oozes charisma, more than he needs to make it on the mic in a WWE ring. What he might need more, however, is discipline.
He might have stolen Ric Flair’s gimmick, but it’s a totally just reigniting of a timeless character that will always have a place in this business. Package him with a touch of Flair, maybe a bit of Million Dollar Man, and he fulfils a role in the WWE that has been missing for some time. JBL did it in the mid-2000s as the billionaire cowboy tycoon, then Del Rio had a short run as the obnoxious foreign aristocrat. You could say that this role need not be so literal; Lesnar is the closest thing to “big money” in a more contemporary role. But Conor’s sacred belief of materialistic possessions as a validation of talent, is an ingredient that wouldn’t damage the new recipe.
Mac would merge nicely into the world of sports entertainment, whether he likes it or not. He would obviously need the training, but given his resume, he could have a knack for it come Wrestlemania 33. Who knows, it might give him some appreciation for what wrestlers do.
Or throw him in the ring and let Nakamura kick the crap out of him.