2021 Oklahoma Legislature
If you think hard enough, you can find a WWE superstar who resembles virtually any politician. (NonDoc)

The 2021 Oklahoma Legislature has turned into one hell of a theatrical Royal Rumble, at least among members of House and Senate leadership.

House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) are feuding over federalism, while budget chairpersons Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) and Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) have seen their relationship become over-exposed on film … or at least the state’s film industry rebate program.

Can’t keep up with all the policy posturing and dramatic details? Who could blame you? That’s our job. But as we wait for answers and a state budget agreement, it’s also our job to keep folks entertained and — maybe — remind politicians not to take themselves too seriously.

Below are two metaphor-laden explanations of the McCall-Treat bout and the Wallace-Thompson brawl, accompanied by the most intimidating photos we have of them in our vast photo library.

Then, we’ve paired up several other legislators and state leaders with their WWE doppelgängers for your amusement. Enjoy, and maybe see if you can get JR to tweet this article out. (Use the arrows below to swipe between sections.)

1The A-team: Greg Treat v. Charles McCall

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) and House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) are no strangers to politics, nor one another. (NonDoc)

This political heavyweight title match features the ultimate Oklahoma divide: established competitors in the same crowded demographic division with plenty of history and very different backgrounds.

Charles McCall is a generationally influential banker from Atoka County whose powerful family resides within the Chickasaw Nation, an Indian Country reservation as defined by 18 U.S.C 1151a. A tall and imposing figure in the ring, McCall is more comfortable looking slick in a classy vehicle than he is cutting promos on the microphone.

Greg Treat is a political powerhouse himself — the leading lineage of legendary GOP Sen. Tom Coburn who overcame an opponent with the Name ID of Lake Hefner Parkway to door-knock his way to the Big Show in a northwest OKC 2011 special election. A constitutional junkie who takes meetings at Starbucks, Treat can be a Macho Man on the mic and a Daniel Bryan-esque technician in a scrum, especially when he’s rocking a rugged beard.

Both men hail from the halls of the University of Oklahoma, where Treat was a political science and history major and McCall studied business administration and finance. McCall came out strong to start their 2021 legislative bout, playing to the crowd with tax cut proposals and fanning a wad of money toward educators with the promise of triggering a class-size cap. Treat has absorbed those body blows, clotheslined McCall as he ran his corporate income tax elimination effort and stood firm with school leaders who prefer the money without the mandate.

While McCall tried to trap Treat in a corner on the topic of federalism, a mark named Don Spencer rushed into the ring waving his briefcase wildly and got the match suspended… for now.

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2Money in the bank: Kevin Wallace v. Roger Thompson

House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) and Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) hold the keys to unlock a budget agreement and get everyone out of session to go home. (NonDoc)

One of the Legislation Federation’s taller competitors, Kevin “Big Easy” Wallace hates the game but likes the fame … of rattling off complicated budget numbers faster than any normal nincompoop can sip his coffee.

Bespectacled and bearded, Roger Thompson rattles off numbers, too, but with a resonance that sounds as if someone put Conway Twitty or John Bradshaw Layfield in charge of reducing DHS’s DDS waiting list. The owner of the Okemah News Leader headquartered inside of his wife Pamela’s Pioneer Mall, Thompson enjoys the mic more than Wallace, but neither is a slouch when it comes to one-liners.

Wallace shoots shit for a living — or lets other people shoot it on his deer preserve — and his favorite political maneuver is to unleash a silent smile. Thompson helps lead a circus in the Senate, and Wallace mostly avoids the inanity of the Frat House.

Both men walk the Capitol with hard-charging strides that demand gut-bucket rock and roll intro music. Their disagreements over the state’s film industry rebate, education funding and the Grand River Dam Authority have led to a lengthy ladder match this year, but neither man has been known to capitulate after a long night.

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3Shillelagh shenanigans: Jon Echols is Fit Finlay

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols is Fit Finlay in disguise. (NonDoc)

Often serving the function of McCall’s mouthpiece, Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) wields a powerful microphone on the Oklahoma House floor, politely moving to table competitors’ motions and carrying some of the body’s most interesting bills.

Fit Finlay carries a shillelagh and is known as one of pro-wrestling’s legitimate tough guys. We would make a contribution to the General Revenue Fund to (not) see Echols in Finlay’s singlet, but we would like a public vote on which of Echols’ assistant floor leaders would make the better Hornswoggle: Rep. John Pfeiffer or Rep. Dustin Roberts.

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4The People’s Elbow: Monroe Nichols is The Rock

Rep. Monroe Nichols is The Rock in disguise. (NonDoc)

Can you smell what Monroe is cooking?

Like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) played college football before finding his true calling on another field. Also like The Rock, Nichols will lay the smack down on your candy ass.

One of the most inspiring Black voices in Oklahoma politics, Nichols uses the mic to his advantage much like The Rock, though by the virtue of Oklahoma’s one-party dominance, he holds fewer championship belts.

Still, the most electrifying man in north Tulsa has been known to rattle his opponents rhetorically. What are their names? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THEIR NAMES ARE.

Johnson’s combination of attitude, affability and athleticism helped lead the WWE back to relevance during the mid-2000s. Could Nichols become the Jabroni-beatin’, pie-eating’, hell-raisin’, trailblazing’, eyebrow-raisin’ people’s champ and do the same for the Oklahoma Democratic Party?

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5Big boot: Josh West is The Great Khali

Rep. Josh West is The Great Khali in disguise. (NonDoc)

On most days, Rep. Josh West (R-Grove) walks through the Oklahoma Capitol with a styrofoam cup and a kick-ass attitude. An Iraq War veteran, West nearly kicked the much smaller ass of former Rep. Mike Ritze in 2018, and he was instrumental in the effort to expose Ritze’s embellished military service claims. More recently, West also confronted protestors in the House gallery, a tense situation that thankfully ended without physicality.

The Great Khali has been a physical specimen in the WWE since 2000. Before that, he was an officer with the Punjab Police in India. A lumbering giant with limited mobility, the sheer size of The Great Khali leaves opponents not wanting any. No one with good sense wants any from Josh West, either, but they do want to hear his repertoire of Legislature-related country songs.

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6Masked men: Jose Cruz is Rey Mysterio

Rep. Jose Cruz is Rey Mysterio in disguise. (NonDoc)

Freshman Rep. Jose Cruz (D-OKC) decided to promote responsible coronavirus prevention techniques when he took his official House photo this year, and his masked portrait was one of the inspirations for this entire post. A graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, Cruz works at the law firm of Foshee & Yaffe and is a member of the National Hispanic Bar Association.

Rey Mysterio Jr. is a living legend in the ring who has inspired many young wrestlers, including his son, Dominik Mysterio. He might be the most identifiable luchador in American professional wrestling, wearing masks and shiny patent-leather pants as he flies off of turnbuckles and through the ropes for his trademark 619 kick to a competitor’s face.

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7Large and in charge: Gov. Kevin Stitt is Wildcat Chris Harris

Gov. Kevin Stitt is Wildcat Chris Harris in disguise. (NonDoc)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is blessed with an expressive face, which also happens to look like that of Wildcat Chris Harris, aka Braden Walker.

Two and a half years through his first term as governor, Stitt already has more fame than Harris/Walker ever earned, but both men seem to hit the gym on a regular basis. If Stitt wins re-election by catatonic slamming his 2022 gubernatorial opponents, he might consider rocking a Harris-like haircut just to give the chattering class more to talk about.

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8Play to the camera: Matt Pinnell is Evan Bourne

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell is Evan Bourne in disguise. (NonDoc)

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell really knows how to cut a promo, as evidenced by his recent Cycle 66 film shoot in front of the State Capitol. The former state GOP chairman successfully exited the nightmare of party wrangling and won statewide office in 2018. The position of lieutenant governor affords him a chance to stay out of politically problematic policy debates (see above) and instead focus on cutting every ribbon and buying every pie from Miami to Hollis.

Evan Bourne — better known (by nerds) under his ring name of Matt Sydal — has bounced around various circuits before and after being a one-time tag-team champion in the WWE as part of the AirBourne duo, which sounds like a vitamin amalgamation. If you want to spend eight minutes of your life learning all about Bourne’s WWE career, knock yourself out.

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9Drop kick: Cyndi Munson is Asuka

Rep. Cyndi Munson is Asuka in disguise. (NonDoc)

Rep. Cyndi Munson (D-OKC) turned a red Oklahoma City House seat blue in 2015, and she has earned respect among the full Legislature while still positioning herself as the next potential leader of the House Democratic Caucus. She is currently working to carry the Sexual Assault Victims’ Right to Information Act through final passage in the 2021 Oklahoma Legislature.

Asuka is the WWE ring name of Kanako Urai, who signed with the WWE in 2015 after a successful career in Japan. She has been a smash hit since, combining colorful showmanship with athletic maneuvers and kicking, kneeing or hipping various people in the cookies along the way. Asuka’s success has underscored the past decade’s “revolution” within women’s professional wrestling, which WWE would like to take credit for but which really started at the independent and international level.

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10Glamour gang: Rhonda Baker is Wendi Richter

Rep. Rhonda Baker is Wendi Richter in disguise. (NonDoc)

If you liked big hair and hilarious leotards, 1980s WWF was for you, and multi-time women’s champion Wendi Richter was your spirit animal. If you like Oklahoma education policy in the 2021 Oklahoma Legislature, House Common Education Chairwoman Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) is your muse.

Richter gained national attention in 1984 when some sort of bizarre promo branded her with Cyndi Lauper during a title match against The Fabulous Moolah.

Educators following the 2021 Oklahoma Legislature hope that Baker and her peers can suplex some more fabulous moolah into the common education budget, though how that money best flows to schools remains to be seen.

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11Don’t smile: Chris Kannady is Vladimir Kozlov

Rep. Chris Kannady is Vladimir Kozlov in disguise. (NonDoc)

Vladimir Kozlov could strap on the tiny shorts and brawl with anyone. A heavyweight champion in the martial art of Sambo, Kozlov had a two-year stint in the WWE from 2008 to 2009 as a villain who entered the ring without intro music or a hype video.

First elected in 2014, Rep. Chris Kannady (R-OKC) has lasted far longer in the Oklahoma House, serving as chairman of the House (Civil) Judiciary Committee and acting as a prolific fundraiser for various PACs, including one that helped oust more than half-a-dozen far-right incumbents in 2018.

An attorney and member of the Oklahoma National Guard, Kannady lost a battle with Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) during the 2019 Oklahoma legislative bipartisan softball game, fracturing his wrist in a collision at home plate. The Ukranian-born Kozlov — whose real name is Oleg Prudius — retired from wrestling to focus on acting and stunt work.

Don’t be surprised if Kannady and Cruz pair up as a tag team in coming years, thanks to their employment at the same law firm.

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12No sideburns, no mistakes: Kevin McDugle is Brock Lesnar

Rep. Kevin McDugle is Brock Lesnar in disguise. (NonDoc)

Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) served as a U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor and even wrote a book about it. Beefcake Brock “The Beast” Lesnar once tried out for the Minnesota Vikings and then took his chances as an MMA fighter. If you find a big enough pickle jar, his head could probably fit in it.

McDugle infamously questioned why teachers had walked out of the classroom in 2018 even though the Legislature had already passed a historic tax package and teacher pay raise the week before. Now, he questions whether the state is potentially executing innocent people.

Lesnar doesn’t ask many questions. All he does is eat, sleep, conquer, repeat, which is a more thoughtful plan than many politicians bring with them upon entering office.

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13Hairdo highlights: Micheal Bergstrom is Ted DiBiase

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom is The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase in disguise. (NonDoc)

If Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) is looking for a legislative trademark, he could practice Ted DiBiase’s famous cackle and scare the hell out of his Senate colleagues.

A classic heel, DiBiase was known for playing cruel and unusual pranks that sometimes befuddled his oafish competitors. Bergstrom is far more mild-mannered, but a gold-trimmed tuxedo covered in dollar signs might get him on the Appropriations and Budget Committee next session.

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14Bonus: ‘PR’ Brent Gooden is ‘JR’ Jim Ross

Brent Gooden is “JR” Jim Ross in disguise. (NonDoc)

He’s not a politician, but Brent Gooden runs the eponymous public relations firm Gooden Group, and he prefers never to have his name appear in a news publication. Well, today is your unlucky day, Brent!

Gooden operates arguably the leading private PR company in Oklahoma, and his firm’s clients underscore the point: the Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma (sometimes), BancFirst, Google, Delta Dental, etc. A strategic communicator who has mastered the art of PR, Gooden often crafts the narrative of the melee at hand.

Likewise, in the world of professional wrestling, Jim Ross — better known as JR — told the stories of the ring for decades in the WWE. While his relationship with that organization has ended for now, JR will always be known for making “slobberknocker” a household term. Sure, he occasionally uses language that Gooden would never utter, but he can get away with it because he is “the best play-by-play man in the whole damn business.”

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