You'd think that sci-fi and wrestling would go hand in hand. After all, good wrestling has frequently aired on Syfy. But, in fact, it's actually hard to amalgamate any kind of fantasy into the world of pro wrestling, This is because, once you strip off the costumes and step into the ring, there's no fantasy left ... in this world of ... fake fighting -- LOOK IT MAKES SENSE OKAY? With that in mind, I took a trip through the history of failed sci-fi/horror wrestlers with hilariously odd gimmicks.
Because continuity is as important to the WWE as a 401k plan is to a spider crab, Max Moon was alternately billed as a space alien and a man from the future. I'm not exactly sure how being from the future could help one's wrestling prowess, but that's kind of the point: you have to give a wrestler a useless super power or else fans are going to wonder why their favorite wrestler isn't melting the ref with their heat ray vision or whatever.
Moon entered the ring looking like a dime store cyborg, sporting a device that shot sparklers and a jet pack that was as useless as, well, every real life jetpack ever made.
After the original Max Moon left the WWE, the role was awarded to Paul Diamond simply because he fit into the costume, which is exactly the same reason why the fattest teenager in the pizza kitchen always ends up having to play Chuck E Cheese. After an initial upswing, he fell lower on the card and eventually was dropped from the league. The future ain't all it's cracked up to be.
No character better exemplifies why sci fi/horror themes just don't work as wrestling gimmicks. This voodoo priest character featured veteran Charles Wright swinging a smoke-billowing human skull. You want curses? He got them. Here's a curse which apparently gives the recipient food poisoning:
This was the start of a heated feud between Papa Shango and one of WWE's most popular performers, the Ultimate Warrior. There was back and forth: Shango would put a curse on Warrior, Warrior would retaliate by throwing up... Shango would put another curse, Warrior would respond by bleeding ichor from his head. You can see how this feud was pretty uneven from the start: Ultimate Warrior did not have the secret to stop Shango's curses, unless that secret was "more steroids."
Probably realizing they had painted themselves into a corner, the WWE dropped this feud with absolutely no resolution nor explanation. The thing is, once he enters the ring, all the curse magic stops and he is just another future diabetic in tights. We suspect the WWE has some sort of policy that outlaws curses. We wish baseball would outlaw curses, too (and so do the Chicago Cubs).
Arriving to the ring in the timeless half man, half bull outfit, Mantaur left fans with many questions. Like, "how did this happen? Did a grown man mate with a bull? Did a bovine proctologist get too enthusiastic about his job?" But these queries were disappointingly laid to rest once Mantaur would enter the ring , and simply take off the top half of his costume, revealing that he was actually half man, half exact same man.
In the ring, the wrestler would kind of sell the bull angle, charging his foe and what not. But nothing could bring back the thrill of thinking there was actually going to be a wrestling match involving a mythical being. It's like if I billed myself as the no-armed wrestling sensation "Armless Man," then enter the ring with two empty sleeves poking out from my shirt, but then take off my shirt to reveal that I was actually hiding my arms inside my shirt the whole time.
"One, Two, Freddy's coming for you," was this wrestler's calling chant. Not content to rip off the intellectual property of just one horror franchise, he began a gimmick of running into the ring every time another wrestler mentioned his name. He then caused perhaps the grossest event in wwe (besides the Montreal Job) when he ate a growth off Jillian Hall's face.
It's hard for me to believe that vomiting worms on a pretty girl's face didn't take off, but maybe that's just because I don't have much faith in humanity.
This gimmick was doomed from the start, for one simple reason: Biting is never allowed in wrestling. Which could explain why this character opened the ECW's first ever broadcast on Syfy, yet was never heard from again. But that could have been worked around, there were some errors that doomed the Zombie from the start
First of all, the Zombie is introduced to the ring first. Huge mistake. Zombies chase people. Other than that they just stand around moaning in agony like my stupid agent does every time I try to pitch her my "penguin goes to high school" screenplay. So having a zombie walk to an empty ring simply because procedure dictates it undercuts this character like a machete to the heels. It's painfully obvious the writers were like, "hey Syfy people need some transition from science fiction to wrestling, so they don't see wrestling on Syfy and become confused to the point of catatonic schizophrenia.. I know! Have a zombie walk in to start the whole thing <rest of thought dissolves into a whiskey bottle>".
First appearing to fans as an exciting block of ice, the Yeti had such little talent that he actually botched a bear hug (pitchured above). Oh, and did I mention he is dressed like a mummy? Weird, huh? Well, actually it's the perfect picture of normal compared to his next iteration as the Super Giant Ninja. Because, if an overpowered yeti proved too tough to write into a battle of fists, nerfing it into a super, "giant, "mystical fighter is sure to help things.
I'm not saying WCW writers were a bunch of hacks. I'm just saying they are so unoriginal that they blatantly rip off characters to the point where they get sued. See: Sub-Zero sub aka the Glacier.
One damning example of this was Arachnaman. Due to copyright infringement concerns in 1991, wrestler Brad Armstrong was forced to abandon the role of a grappler named Fantasia (because classical music plus Disney movies equals wrestling). Not so wisely, he soonafter jumped into the ring wearing an outfit that was pretty much just a yellow-and-purple Spider Man costume. Arachnaman would scamper to the ring and shoot silly string (not from his butt though, like a real spider.) Marvel's lawyers came down on Arachnaman like the heel of a flip flop, and the gimmick was soon shelved.
Upon first seeing the disembodied, floating face in the Wizard of Oz, viewers universally think the same thing, "boy, I'd like to get that guy in a headlock." In 1991, WCW turned fantasy into reality by introducing the gimmick of Oz.
Played by legendary wrestler Kevin Nash, Oz featured thematic moves like the Twister and the Emerald City Side Slam, which is just a slam but, you know, thematically titled. The character would come to ringside accompanied by, bizarrely enough, Merlin the Magician, no doubt exciting all the wizard shippers in the crowd. The narrative during Oz' debut shows the lack of effort by the writers more than we ever could:
"Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a wizard. But not the wizard of Oz. His name was the Great Wizard, and he ruled the kingdom of Oz. "
As always, once in the ring his abilities melted away. His only remaining association with the great and powerful Oz was his green color. Unless his wizard power was the ability to oxidize like copper, in which case other secret wizards include the Statue of Liberty and, technically, Abraham Lincoln.
"Everybody has a price," was the mantra of all-star heel Ted "Million Dollar Man" Dibiase. At the agonizingly-titled Christmas special, "Seasons Beatings," Dibiase showed the extent of his money's reach when he bribed Santa Claus to turn evil. Frankly we're not surprised Santa was hard up for cash: he's needed to better monetize his operations for decades.
However, the entire angle was doomed to be short lived. First of all it's super hard to sell Santa as a heel. He could run around stealing toys from a children's hospital oncology ward and I'd be like, "well he's given toys to millions, so he's still way ahead." Also nobody cares about Santa Claus come January, a fact which has greatly contributed to his alcoholism and seasonal affective disorder. If even a little of Dibiase's bribe money goes to a North Pole therapist, this heel turn was for the greater good.
Damien Demento was billed as hailing from "the outer reaches of your mind," and entered the ring wearing an outfit which looked like his head was the "man in a rowboat" of vagina dentata. Acting mentally ill, Demento's crazy-and-unpredictable schtick didn't translate to the ring, where being unpredictable usually leads to a performer breaking their neck.
Demento's claim to fame was headlining the first-ever Monday Night Raw against the Undertaker. Like the American health insurance system, the Undertaker utterly crippled this mentally ill man, in a fight that lasted less than three minutes.
Perhaps nothing is more universally reviled than using a tragedy to enhance one's own personal image. Let's pick a tragedy... for the sake of sanity we'll make one up. Let's say that next Arbor Day all the trees become angry and attack all the albino people. A senseless tragedy, for sure. Now, let's say that, a few years later, I become a professional wrestler called the Albino Arborer. I bleach my skin and wear pink contact lenses, and after the match I split logs and toss them into the audience. You know who would be offended? Trees everywhere. Also, maybe albinos.
As bizarre as this example is, it's pretty much exactly what happened with Adam Bomb. He was touted as a survivor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, a tragedy whose morbid effects are still being discovered decades later. Adam Bomb wore green contacts to mimic the (apparently) eye-changing results of nuclear radiation exposure. After the match, he would toss rubber nuclear missiles into the audience, which has barely anything to do with the Chernobyl meltdown OR atomic bombs.
Potential offensiveness aside, it was just a bad gimmick. What was his angle? If you don't win the match in a certain time limit, the entire city blows up? If you wrestle him too long your hair falls out? It doesn't help that Adam Bomb debuted in 1993, right when U.S. citizens were experiencing rejuvenated relations with the Russians and enjoying lives free from fear of atomic bomb drops. By 1995, the gimmick had been completely defused, and the wrestler obviously went on to better things, like being part of WCW's desperate Mortal Kombat clone crew.
I generally wanted to shy away from the less-popular wrestling leagues, as it is usually the pomp and circumstance given to ridiculous characters on a national stage that makes everything so funny. But I did want to dip into the United States Wrestling Association to make fun of the Christmas Creature for two reasons. First of all, it is part of a long and legendary streak of horrible characters played by Glenn Jacobs before the talented athlete created his world-famous alter ego, Kane. Second, I was hoping someone could solve a mystery that has been bugging me since high school, which is "what the hell was this Christmas Creature supposed to be, exactly?" Like, was it just a seasonal pandering that was never intended to go on for more than a month or two? Was it a guy who went insane while trying to untangle garland?
Even with the wealth of information presented with the modern Internet, I still can't figure it out. Maybe you can do better than I:
Here, a Santa Claus with the highest-pitched voice ever gets called a drunk. Hey, it's probably true, but the kids don't need to know that. Jacobs enters as the Christmas Creature, and proceeds to.... defend Santa? Kick him out of the building? I'm not sure. Christmas Creature then works a horrible match where his opponent has about as much defensive posture as a drunk three-year-old. I guess that was supposed to... ruin Christmas for everyone in attendance? Christmas Creature was eventually beat down in a match against Jerry Lawler, which vanquished the menace from ever again... stealing Christmas? Tangling up garland? Again, what the hell was going on?
Like the minor wrestling leagues, I've also been avoiding the overseas circuits because all this weirdness becomes exponentially more bizarre when it's in a foreign language. But I did want to present the relatively successful gimmick of Chairman/President Ramu. The angle was that a demon possessed a little girl, giving her supreme choke-slamming powers. Take a look:
Played by a Japanese schoolgirl, this gimmick actually held out for almost four years before either she or her parents decided that the drug-and-alcohol-soaked world of fake violence might not be the best place to grow up.
The K.I.S.S. Demon
For decades, K.I.S.S. has done a remarkable job of fooling people, including themselves, into thinking they are anything but an over-the-top, shock-your-parents, arena rock act. WCW was not immune to this spell, and decided to team up with the rockers in 1998, 20 years after the band had any trace of relevance.
The deal was big: Four different wrestling personae would be created, each designed to mirror a different rock ego from K.I.S.S. First up was the Demon. Modeled after Gene Simmons, the role of the Demon was initially bestowed upon wrestler Brian Adams. Before even stepping into the ring, Adams decided he would have nothing more to do with the gimmick. A replacement was found, and a K.I.S.S. concert was scheduled to precede the Demon's debut. That concert proved to be one of the lowest-viewed segments in WCW history. Not only that, the bigwig who was pushing this whole thing lost his job, leaving pretty much everybody else ready and waiting to can the character.
However, one thing stood in the way of completely erasing the K.I.S.S. demon from future shows: K.I.S.S. had signed a contract guaranteeing the Demon would appear in at least one Main Event match. WCW decided that this meant they could stick him into an early match against some wrestler called the Wall, who looked like an oversized Guy Fieri, and just call it the Main Event, arbitrarily. Kind of like how, on my resume it says I've won a Pulitzer, but neglects to mention that "Pulitzer" is just the name of the weekly competition between me and my buddies to see who can beer bong a bottle of Sriracha.
What do vampires have to do with pro wrestling? Well, besides the fact that both fan bases are overrun with hormone-ridden tweens? The answer is Gangrel, the larger-than-life-yet-severely-nerfed WWE "Vampire." The most cool part of this gimmick was his entrance, rising from a ring of fire. The least cool part of this gimmick was also his entrance, when he would drink blood but spit it out, which is poor vampire etiquette.
The main issue which kept Gangrel from ascending past mid-card was a familiar one: His supernatural skill set did not translate inside the ring . Besides both vampires and wrestling vaguely having something to do with bleeding, there's really no crossover. Not only that, even if there was some use for a vampire's skill set(escaping from a figure four leglock by turning into a bat, for example), you can't make special effects, so it won't happen. Hindering any rise was also the fact that the actor repeatedly struggled with weight issues. A fat vampire makes no sense: human blood is the one substance the corn syrup lobby hasn't been able to touch.