Having recently purchased a subscription to the WWE Network, I have rekindled a love of wrestling that hasn’t been this strong since I was a child of eight or so. With the advent of some entertaining wrestling podcasts, namely Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana and Cheap Heat with The Masked Man and Peter Rosenberg, in the past year or so I have loosely re-connected with the weird and wild world of professional wrestling.
So I’m back in, and it’s awesome! Delving into the back catalog, I’m almost overwhelmed at the vast array of old memories that I can revisit any time the mood should strike. I’ve started, for reasons that might become clearer at a later date, in 1993. The very first episode of WWF Raw to be precise. They’re leading into Royal Rumble 1993. Man, the wrestling world (and the world in general) was such a different place back then. It still felt very 80’s for me, but I guess it takes a while for a decade as culturally significant as that one to recede quietly into the night. I’d forgotten gimmicks like Max Moon existed. Maybe that was for the best. Even tougher to swallow was the notion that he was an Intercontinental Championship contender. Tatanka. Damian Demento. They even had a tax man as a character! The list goes on and on. Mullets were the thing back then, apparently. So I plan on going through each year chronologically, with Raw’s and PPV’s. Back then, way before the Internet was a thing, the only ways I could keep up with pro wrestling was getting VHS tapes from the video store I worked at (often several months after the actual event took place), a wrestling hotline that cost me (read: my parents) $1.95 for the first minute and $2.95 for each additional minute (where the man on the other end spoke suspiciously slowly) and word of mouth between my school chums. So it’s nice to now go back and follow the storylines as they developed. At one point in the episode of Raw there was a promo with Bobby Heenan. He was extolling the virtues of his new client, and I swear he was calling him “Narcissus”? Can this be right? I assume he was referring to Lex Luger.
But I digress.
The world of professional wrestling has churned out a multitude of quirky and craptacular characters throughout the years, perhaps never more so than in the 1990’s, when the Monday Night wars were in full swing and the stakes were high. It would seem that both Vince McMahon and Ted Turner, chief tastemakers at WWE (nee WWF) and WCW respectively, were able to conjure up an endless run of eye-rollingly bad gimmicks for we, the wrestling supporting public, to laugh at and along with.
With this in mind, here is a list of 5 fake gimmicks that didn’t quite make the grade:
- Mal Practice, Plastic Surgeon. Practice had been stripped of his medical license due to the staggering amount of botched operations performed under his less-than-steady hand. Whilst in hiding, Practice honed his wrestling skills under the tutelage of former pro-grappler and fellow man of medicine, Isaac Yankem DDS. Yankem, himself a short-lived character in pro wrestling in the mid-1990’s, has been a recluse since his hasty exit from the ranks and now can live out his less-than-stellar pro career vicariously through Mal Practice and his cornucopia of in-ring mastery. Finishing Move: Tag ‘Em & Bag ‘Em, a modified DDT.
- The Pacifist. Former ambassador of the United Nations and essentially Switzerland in human form, The Pacifist had basically the most redundant gimmick in pro wrestling history: the unending urge to avoid conflict at all costs. His approach to combat is to attempt to reconcile any differences through open communication and reasoning. It should go without saying that this particular gimmick had a shelf life somewhere between Outback Jack and The Goon. Finishing Move: Conflict Resolution, which involved flashing a peace sign and running in the opposite direction of his opponent.
- Joe Sixpack. Approaching middle-age quicker than you can say “couch potato”, Sixpack is a suburban slob with a penchant for Doritos, Bud Light and his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. A rasslin’ everyman, he inspires the crowd with his tales of former glory; the four touchdowns in a single game from his high school football championship game being the high watermark for his life. Yep, Joe knows that his life peaked in his teens, and he’s even found a certain peace with it. Finishing Move: Male Pattern Baldness, an inverted Boston Crab.
- Mr Adequate. While he never made much of a dent in any of his athletic endeavors in high school, Mr Adequate was no slouch either. Yessir, he was decidedly middle-of-the-road when it came to sporting prowess. And that’s exactly how Mr Adequate likes it. Renowned as a conservative dresser, voter and driver (he drives the posted speed limit everywhere), Mr Adequate feels no need to puff out his chest and impress people. Finishing Move: Adequate-plex, a modified superplex.
- Brad, The Sexually Ambivalent. Brad is in a bit of a bind of late. Whilst he is attracted to the fairer sex, in recent times he has also found people of his own gender equally beguiling. In a world where sexual preference is either one extreme (overtly straight, eg. Val Venis) or ludicrously camp (eg. Adorable Adrian Adonis), Brad can’t decide where to put his genitalia. He figures he’ll use a platform like the WWE to iron out his issues. Finishing Move: Blue Balls, basically just a bearhug. Brad craves close contact with his opponent.