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Being Bold and Different

What do Red’s Outfielder TJ Friedl and 1960’s Wrestling Heel Boris Malenko Have in Common? They stand out.

How do you stand out from the crowd?

Do something bold. Something different.

Like Red’s player TJ Friedl.

While every MLB player walks to the plate to a custom song of their choosing, TJ does it differently.

Citing the need to stay focused, Friedl walks to the plate old-school style.  To silence.

Not wanting to be distracted by his favorite song he asked that they play nothing.  Aesthetically the results are powerful….he is one of one.

Just a reminder in a world of best practices and copy-cat productions one way to stand out is just do things differently.

When I think of this approach I often think of a story about 1960-70 era wrestling heel Boris Malenko (see below).  Malenko was a heel working around the United States, traveling to different territories.  For wrestlers of that era, your pay depended on how affected the gate (ticket sales)… which was driven by how “over” you are.  Heels (villians)  got over drawing boos and babyfaces (heroes) courting cheers. While it is a little subjective, the best and brightest performers knew an important part of the game was to stand out.

When Boris would arrive in a new town, the first thing he would do was listen to all the other wrestlers give their promos (the interviews aimed to promote matches and feuds).  Boris would look at the style of the other performers.  If everyone in the territory screamed and yelled during their promos, he would speak in threatening whisper.  If the territory had mostly stoic interviews, he would rant and rave like a lunatic.

His message was the same, but he delivered in a way that made him unique.

Stand out.

Be different.

It might not be which song you pick for your walk-up, it might mean picking no song at all.

Additional Background

The father of WWE Legend Dean Malenko, Boris – known by many as The King of the Russian Chain Match – was notorious among North American crowds as an in-ring villain during the 1960s, battling the likes of Johnny Valentine, Jose Lothario, Eddie Graham, Wahoo McDaniel and Joe Scarpa with his feared finishing maneuver, the Russian Sickle lariat.

Calling himself “The Great Malenko,” Boris’ career would take him to Japan in the 1970s, where he toured with All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Some of the highlights of his career included winning the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship, the AWA World Tag Team Championship and the NWA Brass Knuckles Championship.

Following his retirement from in-ring competition, Malenko dedicated himself to training the next generations of grapplers, including X-Pac, Bob Orton Jr., Marc Mero and of course, his sons Dean and Joe.

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