If the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief

If the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief
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Not everyone is a fan of professional wrestling, but it does offer plenty of descriptive fodder for our political system, not least the word “jabroni” — which perfectly describes the comical presidential candidacy of New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDe Blasio knocks Bloomberg over stop and frisk apology Deval Patrick enters 2020 race De Blasio slams Bloomberg run for president: He 'epitomizes the status quo' MORE.

Few recall the bout on July 15, 1987, when Jake “The Snake” Roberts pinned Barry Horowitz in just one minute, nine seconds in one of the latter’s first appearances on WWF’s (now WWE) Superstars of Wrestling, but it was the moment that spawned one of the least successful careers in professional wrestling. Horowitz, with 279 losses out of 296 fights, became the World Wrestling Federation’s quintessential jabroni, the word’s very archetype.

The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English defines “jabroni” as a “professional wrestler usually scripted to lose.” The Oxford dictionary definition is a “foolish or contemptible person.”


According to Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson, whose use of “jabroni” became his mark in trade, the moniker was commonly used backstage by the Iron Sheik as carnival-slang to describe ‘jobbers,’ or the pro wrestlers hired as cannon fodder so that the league’s superstars could win — and look good in the process.

The WWE depends on jobbers. There would be no Hulk Hogan without 30 years worth of Barry Horowitz and his ilk to allow the Hogans to wow the crowds. Every ‘Stone Cold Stunner’ needs a stuneé; every ‘Five Knuckle Shuffle’ needs a face.

In almost exactly the same way, the DNC now needs a jabroni for 2020. The scripted storyline of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race In 2020, democracy will be decided at the margins Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award MORE’s 2016 ascent lacked a popular creation myth, as she arrived at the Royal Rumble without a trail of vanquished foes in her wake. They aren’t going to make that mistake again.

Enter into the ring Bill de Blasio, whose bell is about to be rung.

The party is happy to see its top contenders spar, but their hesitation to land a finishing move while Joe Biden is on the ropes is proof that they want their top tier in top shape when it goes up against the GOP.


Likewise, they don’t want to damage the contenders who can be quickly shifted to other critical bouts (think John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperKrystal Ball dismisses Rahm Emanuel's 'Medicare for All' criticism as a 'corporatist mantra' Trump says remark about Colorado border wall was made 'kiddingly' Colorado governor mocks Trump for saying he's building wall there MORE moving over into the Colorado senate race) or are young enough to be put on ice for future competitions (think Eric SwalwellSeth Moulton).

On the other hand, the New York City mayor’s role in the big show — like pro wrestling’s jabronis — is largely to be expendable. 

Pro wrestling’s jobbers play a critical role in adding to the plotline. Producers tend to write them in as convenient villains, served up for the inevitable takedown. De Blasio’s recent attacks on fan-favorites Joe BidenJoe BidenMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Democrats release two new transcripts ahead of next public impeachment hearings Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage MORE and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in South Carolina Fox News anchor apologizes for saying Booker dropped out of 2020 race MORE could be just that; and to the party faithful, the jabs will dispel the notion that the DNC is anointing yet another nominee.

The best jobbers know how to sell the loss, as the audience prefers dramatic twists to a quick pin. They paid to see Sgt. Slaughter capitalize on his opponent’s missed clothesline or errant jump-kick. Any of de Blasio’s absurdly far-left proposals, like subsidized housing for illegal immigrants, or his blatant fibbing on fossil fuels, could lead him straight into the full nelson of a more skilled grappler. A strong response to his now-viral high-pitched audio snafu in Iowa last week could have become the political equivalent of getting belted with a folding chair.

The jabronis of wrestling rarely get the opportunity to develop their characters, most of which are comically sad. There wasn’t much “iron” in 150-time loser Iron Mike Sharpe, and The Gambler was always a bad bet. Yet their pitiable personas made framing the more popular wrestlers as alpha-males that much easier. Bill de Blasio’s own feeble attempts at developing his ringside demeanor went just as poorly. His signature zinger, “We’re coming for you #ConDon,” was quickly abandoned after it was explained that “ConDon” is actually Spanish for condom.

Though jabronis are vital to pro wrestling, viewers simply do not fall in love with the jobbers that take the brunt of blows during the show.

De Blasio will eventually be forced out of the main events and relegated to the undercard in church halls and high school gyms — but if he does his job for the DNC and helps mold their superstars into heroes, the kids will still ask for his autograph as their dads remind them that this was once a man who wrestled in the big leagues, and who went toe to toe with “Pocahontas” Warren and “Sleepy Joe” Biden in the summer of ’19.

Joseph Borelli is the minority whip of the New York City Council, Republican commentator, professor and Lindsay Fellow at the City University of New York's Institute for State and Local Governance.He served as co-chair of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE’s New York campaign. He has also been published in the NY Daily News, Washington Examiner, and appears on Fox News, Fox Business, BBC, CNN and HLN. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeBorelliNYC.