On Enzo Amore and Emotional Praxis

Enzo Amore is the first outspokenly anti-intellectual character in wrestling I’ve ever gotten into unironically. (I tell myself that my love of Scott Steiner promos is ironic, okay? Let me have this.) His and Cass’s feud with The Vaudevillains beautifully illustrated Enzo’s lack of interest in the academic by framing the conflict between the two groups as a clash of ideologies: the sneering, erudite Vaudevillains versus two loudmouthed Jersey jerks. When Aiden English compared Enzo’s haircut to a rodent with the mange, Enzo’s reply of “And that thing about how I’m a Rodent Mage…I have NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS” was obviously played for laughs, but it also relied on Enzo’s understanding of his character as an extension of himself: A guy who claims he’s never read a book in his life.

Enzo’s a creature of intuition. Aside from being (I would argue) the most talented mic worker in the whole company, here’s a guy who’s passionately committed to never doing his homework. It clicked for me when I listened to his and Cass’s interview on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast, why I identify with and love this guy who seems actively allergic to reading (starting at 26:07):

http://www.podcastone.com/embed?progID=436&pid=1641985

Enzo: I have a degree in writing and journalism. I have literally never read a book in my entire life.
Stone Cold: Come on.
Enzo: Not one book. Not one. I always say, ‘You keep reading them books, I’ll keep writing ’em,’ all right? I have written a thousand pages, I have a thousand pages worth of promos that is in print, that I have physically on me at all times. I am a writer, but I will never read a book. It’s just not in the cards for me. I can’t sit down and do it. I got too much creativity goin’ on in my mind to say to myself “I’m gonna sit here and read this.” Why wouldn’t I write something that’ll make me money, rather than read it?
Stone Cold: Yeah, but you get learnin’s from readin’ books.
Enzo: You can’t teach me nothin’, Steve.
Stone Cold: [laughing] You can’t teach that. There’s a reason why he says that. You can’t teach it!

(There are so many conversations happening within this conversation! Class issues! Learning styles! The contextualization of knowledge and experience! If you haven’t heard this interview, I’m begging you, give it a listen.)

When Stone Cold says “You get learnin’s from readin’ books,” it’s as if he’s relaying something he believes but hasn’t fully internalized, and when Enzo shoots back “You can’t teach me nothin’, Steve,” he’s acknowledging the abstract value of reading, but points out that his learning style is incompatible with sitting for long stretches with his face buried in a book. He’s not anti-learning — he’s pro-experience, pro-intuition, pro-improvisation.

And even for an admitted chronic work-dodger, he’s not half as much of a troglodyte as he likes to let people believe for the sake of his character. He’s put the work in by studying with Dusty Rhodes to refine his promo into a pyrotechnic verbal demonstration that makes everybody else look like they’re asleep on the mic. And he listens to himself by figuring out which of the words swirling around his brain get the strongest reactions out of crowds.

The fact that he’s constitutionally unable to focus on anything other than the screaming jumble inside that skunk-haired head isn’t a disadvantage for him, because when he gets on the mic, he’s focused like a rifle shot. By saying “you can’t teach me nothin’,” he’s not saying that he doesn’t want to learn anything — he’s saying that he learns by doing, by performing in live settings and relying on his instincts to craft those amazing promos. Enzo is electric on the mic because he has perfect comedic timing and an ear for memorable language.

And you can’t teach that.

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