Do you find the Oklahoma Legislature too boring to warrant your attention? Would you be more intrigued if the state’s elected and appointed leaders donned shocking costumes and orchestrated farcical choreography to display good ol’ American violence?
You’re probably not alone.
To that end, we here at NonDoc have sunk our editorial board’s collective knowledge of the Oklahoma Capitol and America’s signature theater troupe — the WWE — into this post.
Who are 10 of the top political players in the Sooner State, and which classic WWE wrestlers do they resemble?
Let’s start with some top bureaucrats and move into legislative leaders. (Swipe left to see all 10.)
10Oklahoma Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger
Preston Doerflinger catches a lot of flack for being blunt with his words about state finances, school choice and members of the Legislature. His signature slick hair reminds us of a young Sean Waltman, who jumped around the old WWF ring originally under the moniker of The 1-2-3 Kid.
Whether Doerflinger can moonsault staunchly anti-tax Republicans into new revenue streams this session will be an interesting 2017 story line, but if he can’t and ultimately changes jobs at the end of the year, he could strap on a bandanna and morph into Waltman’s later and greater-recognized character, X-Pac.
9Mental Health Commissioner Terri White
If you’re looking for a boot-wearing, no-nonsense grappler who will go toe-to-toe with anyone opposed to Oklahomans getting better access to mental health care, ODMHSAS Commissioner Terri White is your heroine.
In an infamously awkward/awesome video rendition of Michael Jackson’s Bad, White suited up in full leather and put her hair in curls. The look was femininely reminiscent to WWE rock star rumbler Chris Jericho. The nine-time Intercontinental Champion might be a little more flamboyant than the commissioner, but Jericho earned the nickname Y2J in this video from late 1999, where he was branded as the WWE’s face for the new millennium.
If White can convince the Legislature to let her be the face of Oklahoma’s new approach to addressing prison overcrowding and mental health care, perhaps the state can kick a little ass and take a few names … of people off the incarceration lists.
NonDoc has neither confirmed nor denied that White is a fan of Jericho’s buttrock band Fozzy.
8House Speaker Charles McCall
Slicked-back hair is turning into a theme among these political power players and their middling WWE doppelgangers. In this corner stands newly named House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) and in the other stands independent-circuit galoot Frankie “Kaz” Kazarian.
While Kaz might be the most obscure wrestler chosen here, McCall starts his speakership as relatively obscure to most Oklahomans.
Although Kaz is described in this video as “the arrogant, the abrasive, the obnoxious and obtuse Frankie Kazarian,” McCall is said to be quite measured and seems to be promoting the serious business of governing.
Still, if he ever needs to get the attention of his more easily distracted members, McCall could put on some beefy shorts and enormous yellow knee pads before body slamming a bewildered Rep. Jason Murphy (R-Guthrie) into voting for his deal.
Of course, that’s probably more within the job description of a majority whip, so don’t hold your breath.
7Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz
Across the rotunda from McCall, the Oklahoma Senate will be led in 2017 by President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-Altus). Promoting the American Dream is always a popular ploy among politicians, and Schulz could gain some extra notoriety if he adopted the persona of the late wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, The American Dream himself.
Rhodes was a behemoth in the ring, and Schulz has climbed to the top of Oklahoma’s upper chamber after years in leadership. Rhodes also promoted himself as another concept on which voters are keen: a common man.
Should the Oklahoma Senate spend its 2017 session trying to elevate the common man to achieve the American Dream, Schulz might be able to rally enough support to deliver a bionic elbow to the state’s budget woes.
6Sen. Kyle Loveless is Festus
Since Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-OKC) is a fairly regular NonDoc contributor of political commentary, it’s only fair that he take on the persona of one of our favorite — albeit obscure — WWE characters: Festus.
Originally part of a tag-team lineup, Festus’ shtick from 2007 to 2009 centered around an undefined mental handicap that rendered him a gentle and clueless giant until the bell rang to start a wrestling match. At that point, he would become a raging bull, throwing opponents across the ring and generally dominating any red-blooded fool who got in his way.
When the bell would ring again, Festus would return to his comatose demeanor, prompting various jokes from WWE announcers that certainly seem insensitive 10 years later. “Heck of an elevator, but no top floor, yuk yuk.”
Should Loveless once again be stymied in his attempt to bring reasonable reform to Oklahoma’s civil asset forfeiture laws, perhaps he will lose control when the bell rings for a Senate vote and throw Sen. Bryce Marlatt (R-Woodward) through a desk.
5Rep. Leslie Osborn
If Schulz will have Festus on his side for the 2017 session, McCall will have a capable ringmaster on his: Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Tuttle), who could don some wacky shoulder pads and pass as the late Luna Vachon.
Osborn would have to draw some outlandish veins on her face and start punching people wildly if she really wanted to pull off the act, but that seems easy enough.
The Capitol press corps waits eagerly to see whether Osborn can deliver a Vachon-style speech on the House floor.
4House Minority Leader Scott Inman
Fans of recent WWE story lines probably recognize Dean Ambrose as the unhinged, wild-eyed, “crazy” wrestler who always has a bum shoulder and a weird shot at winning the Intercontinental Title despite not being particularly good at throwing a believable punch.
Enter House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) who loves nothing more than a good chance to ram some sort of hypocrisy up the backside of GOP leadership. If Inman, who is considered a likely gubernatorial candidate, could just grow his hair a little more shaggy and slap himself in the face a few more times a day, he could channel his inner Dean Ambrose and legitimately frighten meeker legislators.
Or, he could partner with Chris Jericho/Terri White above and combat the stigma of mental health care, which is perpetuated heavily by the WWE’s treatment of Ambrose, a man branded with his own “asylum” and a dozen announcer utterings of “crazy” and “insane” per match.
3Rep. John Bennett
Speaking of batshit demagoguery, you all remember Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw), right? The military veteran turned anti-Islam crusader is no fan of hugs, and he’s a real American hero, unlike you whiny little liberal namby-pambies who like Meryl Streep and freedom but who don’t want to put in the blood, sweat and tears necessary to wrench it from the constant threat of domestic suicide bombings.
To that end, Bennett is former WWE champion Kurt Angle turned heel. Angle, of course, was a real wrestler who won medals at the Olympics and has the damaged ear cartilage to prove it. Check out his wild American antics in this highlight video if you’re unfamiliar, and then imagine John Bennett parading around the Capitol in a onesie ready to slap thighs with anyone who has dark skin and a suspicious attitude.
2State Auditor Gary Jones
Kane is arguably one of the more boring WWE superstars over the past two decades, but he’s a competent wrestler with a large frame and a penchant for grabbing people by the throat and slamming them into the mat.
Who better, then, for State Auditor Gary Jones to look like? Jones spends his days slapping public entities around when they can’t find their own lunch money. Kane is The Big Red Machine, and Jones previously served as head of a Big Red Machine — the Oklahoma Republican Party.
Of note: Kane is apparently considering a run to become mayor of some unspecified Tennessee town, according to Wikipedia.
1OU President David Boren
Who remains as the biggest and baddest heavyweight on the block despite aging knees and the collected wounds of decades in the business?
That would be OU President David Boren, and it would make him Mick Foley, in our estimation. Foley had a wonderfully bizarre schtick as Mankind in the late 1990s. He would hobble around the ring and outsmart his younger opponents until he could seize an opportunity to shove a filthy sock puppet into their mouths.
If it’s unclear how that’s a metaphor for David Boren’s reign as head honcho in the state of Oklahoma, then you probably need to watch more wrestling and read more on state politics.
(Clarification: A reader has pointed out that NonDoc used an image of Mick Foley as his character Cactus Jack instead of his character Mankind. NonDoc regrets the error.)