Greetings traveller and welcome to the shadows. As the snow has arrived across the UK, the darkness has drawn in, the cold wind whistles through the cracks in the wall and we’re restless. As we close our tired eyes at night and feel the darkness enter our exhausted minds, the nightmares of old keep us awake… The Gobbledygooker! The fake Undertaker! Katie Vick! Tyson Tomko and Stevie Richards! Ah The Shockmaster! No Sid! No! Don’t jump off the top rope!!!
Much like Sid’s left leg I’m breaking out some of the most ridiculous, cringe-worthy and dire events we’ve all tried to forget…and reminded you of their ghastly existence so we all get a good night’s sleep this week. Being a wrestling fan can be exciting, unpredictable and always interesting however the perils that come with this dedication are that far too often we are greeted with unmitigating crap. Developments so unbearable it makes you want to listen to X-Factor’s old music in a sealed vault with a lonely Mark Henry rather than see that stuff again. Now we all know about Katie Vick, The Shockmaster and Sid trying to re-do a promo live on air, so let’s have a wander down the coned off section of memory lane and re-visit some forgotten horror shows in professional wrestling.
Meet the new Chairman…
Now many of today’s fans are spoilt for choice when it comes to cage gimmicks and matches. From Hell in Cells to Elimination Chambers and Lethal Lockdowns, they are hard hitting matches, which over the last decade have had a wide array of blood, weapons and absolute chaos. In 1991 though, the bloody epic cage match wasn’t a thing for the future, just ask JJ Dillion or Tully Blanchard about gory cage consequences. However for Halloween Havoc 91, WCW thought a good old fashioned cage match wasn’t nearly enough. The creative geniuses in Atlanta were thinking Frankenstein. “Hey you know what this cage match is missing? An electric chair!!!” Oh dear. Marquee talent like Sting and the Steiners met with Vader, the future Razor Ramon Scott Hall and Mick Foley in a Chamber of Horrors match. Yet it was the bad guy’s 4th team member, the legendary Abdullah the Butcher (he of the Olympic running track forehead) who was the “unfortunate” electrocution victim.
Now why does something this farcical and mental go in the good? Frankly cause it’s absolutely hilarious and the crowd were lapping it up. I mean what isn’t beautifully ironic about a bunch of southern hicks going absolutely insane for the big black man getting the electric chair? The Green Mile it certainly wasn’t. Sadly WCW at this point was going for insanity over most other forms of logic, and with this and Robocop saving Sting a year earlier, demonstrated WCW had indeed jumped the shark. For many long-time NWA fans who loved the show for a much bigger slice of realism and honesty, they started to look elsewhere. But please enjoy the video it deserves to be seen again and again.
Someone’s in trouble
Souled Out 2000 was a memorable PPV largely for featuring the last Chris Benoit match before he left for the WWF a week later. His fellow future Radicals, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero were also all involved and Malenko’s hilarious contribution is often overlooked. Billy Kidman had 3 three gimmick gauntlet matches against members of mid-card heel stable The Revolution and his first was a catch as can match against The Iceman, Malenko. The loser is the first guy who goes to the floor outside. Somebody really should have reminded Dean.
Good old WCW though, what’s the worse they were going to do? Fire him? That’s what he wanted!
Who’s that? Why it’s Beaver Cleavage!
A lot of people say Vince Russo has no patience. They also say he loves a good swerve. Oh and a ridiculous gimmick. So what happens when you put all 3 together in a sexy and rushed attitude sandwich? The infamous Harry Beaver Cleavage. The Beav debuted in early June 1999 and for anybody with a keen pair of eyes or a Power Slam magazine, you could see it was a repackaged Head Banger Mosh. The gimmick was of a seemingly overgrown child with a “WWE hot” (blonde hair and a chest that were even a handful for The Great Khali) mother who he had a pretty ‘unique’ close relationship with. All in all a classic forgotten late 90’s WWE gimmick. It was perfectly harmless stuff though and even started to get over, principally on the fact it was freakishly endearing and weird, bit like Susan Boyle.
Now he debuted on June 7th. On June 21st (2 weeks later for you Maths whizzes) in the middle of a promo, the Beav broke character, said he couldn’t do it anymore and walked off. The following week returning to announce he just wants to be himself!
So we get all this in 3 weeks? Introduce a new crazy gimmick, start to get him over, ditch it live on air with Chaz breaking character announcing he just wants to be himself with his now girlfriend/former on-screen mum. Confused?
You should be.
Unsurprisingly this all went down like Drew McIntyre’s entrance and Chaz went nowhere ultimately ensuring this whole pointless charade made the public care even less about him than before (which was difficult). Not to mention this confusing scripted shoot debacle came only a month after the death of Owen Hart and the very real and heartfelt comments made by wrestlers out of character on Raw. A startling use of blurring the lines between fiction and reality. All for an irrelevant jobber guy who was on the fast track to Future Endeavours-land.
Want to see a giant ride on a coffin?
As already established, 1999 was an interesting year for the WWE. They did monster numbers in television and the likes of The Rock, Steve Austin and The Undertaker were drawing in huge buyrates and having legendary feuds. Yet as shown with Mr. Cleavage they were pushing the envelope in other truly baffling directions. The late Big Bossman had returned to the McMahons in late 1998 and 1999 was a memorable year to say the least for him. His character became rather sadistically evil. Not in a Saw way, more of a Wile. E Coyote way. In the autumn he had feuded with Al Snow with a storyline centring on Snow’s dog Pepper. It later emerged that Bossman had stolen Snow’s dog and then tricked the hapless nutter into eating his own dog! Ha! That Machiavellian trickster! And before you ask, no he didn’t put salt on it. Their feud climaxed in the frankly disastrous Kennel from Hell match, a hell in a cell match with dogs in. I wouldn’t dare show you that. Nobody deserves that.
Phew, I bet the Bossman thought. Thank God that’s over, now I can get back to regular storylines and good clean fun. Sadly this was the calm before the real storm…
Whether the writing crew had used this first maniacal feud as a tester or were impressed by Bossman’s new found impressive craziness, they had a much more diabolical plot ahead.
The Big Show’s dying dad!
After all, nothing sells in wrestling like mocking a giant for mourning his cancer ridden father.
So in storyline land, The Big Show’s dad dies and Bossman rips into Show, mocking the blubbering tortured tower for showing grief and pain. The feud reached a quite astonishing low where at his funeral, the Bossman hooks up the coffin to his car, drives away, leaving Show to dive on it Jimmy Snuka on Don Muraco. And for the cherry on top, the WWE rewards Big Show with his first WWE Title reign.
It was a feud that mixed Bossman’s Deliverance insanity with the Frankenstein monster Big Show showing new found weakness and conflict. The fact it was his 2nd face turn of the year meant his character was so all over the place though it was impossible not to find any of this ridiculous, bordering on farcical and hilarious. So for any current WWE fans who think today is boring, have a look at this and think what you’d rather have.
Broken bones, bleeding like a pig, crunching concussions and seismic slams are wrestling’s pitfalls. For a fan like me, growing up seeing images and film of Vader breaking backs or Carlos Colon giving blood in gallon jugs, it’s a horror spectacle which frightens and screams danger.
I’ll leave you with some of my horrendous favourite videos and pictures. Those of a nervous disposition, hide behind your sofa…
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the Muta Scale. Poor Keiji Muto bled so much he was given his own scale in terms of how much claret is spilled within the squared circle. It’s graphic viewing, so beware…
Muto’s involved again, this time he’s the one avoiding the agony. Jushin Liger comes off very badly from a simple slide. I bet he wish he didn’t stand up…
Keep your eye out for this one. Vader certainly did.
Owen Hart here, demonstrating the perils of a live promo.
You always got the impression Michael Buffer really cared about working for WCW.
* Abe “Knuckleball” Schwarz – (aka The Brooklyn Brawler) was a baseball player, his face was painted like a ball. Creative inspiration don’t you think? Sadly he never got anywhere near hitting a home run.
* T.L. Hopper – A southern hick plumber. Nothing says dangerous like a man who, if he’s really angry, might cut off your water supply. Sadly his character didn’t last long and he returned to the indie circuit. He didn’t get much work there though as new Polish wrestlers took all his bookings for less money and more work. True story. I bet he wished he took up a more profitable trade like…
* Isaac Yankem – Dentistry! It’s Kane after visiting Jeff Jarrett’s hairdresser and Shane McGowan’s dentist. You see Isaac Yankem was known as a sadistic dentist but did you see those gnashers? You’d have thought a dentist character should have perfect teeth. That being said he was also portrayed as a major force and threat to all in the WWE. And he wasn’t that either. Not until 1997 did Glen Jacobs get a career defining role. Isaac Yankem though will sadly hang over his head like a bad smell forever.
* Adam Bomb – So Bryan Clark ‘survives’ the Three Mile Incident, which somehow meant he had to wear a weird red and yellow leotard and these crazy glasses. I suppose that works for Kanye West though and let’s not forget he also had a nuclear meltdown with that ego explosion with Taylor Swift. The principle difference was Kanye sold a lot and was successful. Clark was very successful and he certainly didn’t sell much. His high point was jobbing in seconds to Earthquake at Wrestle Mania 10 before his next big starring role in the aptly named tag team Kronic with the late Crush, Brian Adams. Anyone who saw their match with The Undertaker and Kane in 2001 will know chronic barely covered their abilities.
So there we have it. Some truly frightening and terrifying moments largely forgotten in wrestling…and for good reason too. If there are any moments you’d like to let everyone know about or you need to tell the world what grotesque grappling catastrophes chill you to the bone, then please add your comments!
I hope this has warmed you up in the cold and bleak days and always remember…with the Vince’s of McMahon and Russo stirring the creative brew of WWE and TNA, there’s always something scary lurking around the corner.
Proceed with caution…