Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Worst Characters
Gene Okerlund is your moderator and the panel is Mick Foley, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes and Pat Patterson
This is the second episode with this group and the topic is one that should make for some entertaining discussion. Mick Foley throws down the first offender with Mantaur and he said it was the worst of a succession of a crap characters like Bastion Booger and this was during the time that Mick was trying to get into the WWF. And he then goes into a strange story about Shane Douglas pulling a prank on him calling his parents pretending to be Pat Patterson.
Michael Hayes says the most memorable debut of a character that seemed to have tons of potential but never had the second chance to make the first impression and it was the Shockmaster. Poor Fred Ottman.
(They show the infamous clip of the Shockmaster’s debut and of course it’s must-see TV for any fan of wrestling because the comedy that follows is off the charts. That and Davey Boy Smith’s ridiculous robe.)
Dusty tells the story and it’s hilarious. Apparently Ottman had busted through the gimmicked wall earlier in dress rehearsal for the segment but in between the dress and live TV David Crockett nailed a 2 x 4 to the wall that Dusty assumes was there to sabotoge him. Of course Ottman trips and his helmet rolls off (the image of him shaking the cobwebs out and then grabbing the helmet and putting it on is gutbusting). Dusty telling the story of Ottman’s reaction (“I really fucked this up didn’t I?”) is just amazing. I couldn’t stop laughing. They crack on the Gobbledy Gooker for a bit, poor Hector Guerrero. Dusty says he and Vince will discuss which idea was worse over drinks quite often. Dusty rehashes Davey Boy’s quote during the Shockmaster fracas too (“he fell on he ass didn’t he?”). Patterson quickly lets Vince fall on the sword the for Gobbledy Gooker idea.
Patterson switches to discuss the polka dots with Dusty and Dusty talks about adding Sapphire, who in his words had a worst body than he did. Mick asks if Dusty thought the polka dots was a humbling rib. Dusty said it probably was but he knew he could get it over. And Vince told him to enjoy his time in the WWF and for a year and a half he had a lot of fun and made a lot of money. Mick brings up the Mike Shaw characters from Makhan Singh to Norman to the shit he did in the WWF from The Monk to Bastion Booger. None of the characters took off and Shaw asked Patterson why he wasn’t getting many booking dates so Patterson told him to ask Vince. So poor Shaw waits and hour to see Vince and gets his release.
Okerlund talks about the thought that goes behind these characters and Mick makes a great point of understanding that Shockmaster might have something going for him upon his debut…but what possibly could the Gobbledy Gooker have going for it. Mick’s theory was that the Undertaker, who was released by WCW and debuting on this card, was supposed to bust through that egg. But once they saw how big and imposing Mr. McCool was they decided to go a different route (BTW at one point Hogan took full credit for all that from bring Mark in to see Vince and doing the whole gimmick). Patterson was also kept in the dark and actually thought it was Ric Flair. Dusty said the trick worked because Vince got people’s curiosity.
Terry Taylor said that the gimmick of The Red Rooster and Mr. Perfect were being batted around for him. Mick says Taylor could have been a great Mr. Perfect but Hayes disagrees and says would you rather hit a single with the gimmick or a home run. Hennig hit a home run. Hayes believes Taylor was talented enough to make anything work but he thought it was a rib and didn’t embrace it like Dusty embraced the polka dots. Okerlund says the gimmick was a damn chicken and Patterson has a line of a life time.
“What’s wrong with a cock in the ring.”
HOLY SHIT!! I am so happy I wasn’t drinking anything because the keyboard would have been destroyed.
(To back up Hayes, I take the character of Dolph Ziggler. That’s a stupid name and there’s no way a guy named Dolph Ziggler should get past the comedy stage. But god bless Nick Nemeth because he OWNS Dolph Ziggler. That is who he is and he is awesome. I say it again, 2013 has to be Dolph’s year. Beyond his exceptional talent in the ring he’s a damn smart guy that really seems to understand how to get a crowd going. And he made Amy Schumer beg for mercy when they were together, which is funny given her stand up routine and how she tortures guys in bed that can’t handle her.)
Hayes cracks on his own shitty WWF gimmick of Dok Hendrix and despite how stupid it was and how everyone knew who he was, he still had to try his best to make it work. Mick says there were some characters that thankfully were left on the cutting room floor. Vince asked him to be the Mutilator and of course we have Steve Austin’s wide assortment of name options like “Baron Von Ruthless”, “Ice Dagger” and “Chilly McFreeze (LOL)”. Duke Droese actually did a great Finkel impersonation and “announced” Austin as each of these names and Austin naturally thought they all sucked. Mick makes the point that no matter how talented you are, coming out to the ring as Ice Dagger and he’s dead.
Hayes talks about one of the great mistakes when Ole debuted Harlem Heat with Robert Fuller, doing his Colonel Sanders gimmick, and the Heat came out in chains. Hayes says Ole was obviously drunk when he thought of that (actually he’s just a racist fuckhead but we’ll hit on that in an episode down the road). Mick talks about how funny watching Ron Simmons come out as the Blue Sparticus and how he had to adjust the Faarooq gimmick. Patterson talks about his days as a stooge with Brisco and Hayes explains how the evening gown match came about. Well Hayes and Brian Gerwitz needed one more match for this PPV (someone fill me in on which PPV this was) and Hayes said that a Trish-Lita bra & panties match was the clear leader in the clubhouse. But Vince wanted something with the stooges for the Hardcore title. Hayes tried to reason with Vince and say…would you rather see Trish in a bra or the stooges in a brawl and Vince gives the classic open-ended answer “You’re right!” and you see what we got.
Conversation shifts to gimmicks that appeared to be bad on the surface but worked. Hayes said the first one that comes to mind is Goldust. Dusty explains how the “real stooge” Bruce Pritchard set all this up. Dusty says the Goldust entrance was the best in the wrestling at the time. He took that gimmick to the point of where it became his alter ego and and it was very revolutionary. Dusty doesn’t believe it was a rib but rather they wanted to go with something outlandish. Hayes says at first Scott Hall refused to work with him but relented later.
(Clips of Goldust’s early interviews and in my opinion hindsight has helped that character a ton because it was really something unique and different and Dustin did a hell of a job.)
They talk about the evolution of Scott Hall from Starship Coyote to Razor Ramon and Steve Austin from Stunning to Stone Cold. Dusty and Hayes said those characters were in those guys from the beginning and they had it in their hearts and the crowd responded. Hayes says Foley did as well with Cactus Jack and Dude Love. Patterson talks about how much fun George Steele had with his character.
(Clips of Steele and Lou Albino doing shock therapy on Tuesday Night Titans. Steele gets shocked and of course speaks like a professor before getting re-shocked and turning back into the animal. Oddly enough I think George Steele is or was a public school teacher. Funny stuff.)
They talk about Doink and Foley talks about how great Matt Borne was at it and how others just couldn’t compare. Patterson says there was tons of Doinks but Borne made it work because he was a little demented. Okerlund talks to Patterson about being part of the think tank to come up with these guys and Patterson says the key is to live the character. Mick talks about guys that keep their characters and make it work everywhere is Abdullah the Butcher, who hops from country to country and has been the same guy forever. And he compares that to a guy that’s in one place like the Undertaker and is forced to constantly evolve his character and that’s how he’s stayed in the industry. Same with Triple H, how he evolved from the blue blood, to DX to the Game. Hayes says it’s passion and the desire to get that crowd going above all others.
Dusty blames El Gigante/Giant Gonzalez on Jim Herd and Hayes mentions the Ding Dongs. Dusty says even strong characters have bad moments and Dusty talks about the Terrordome match at 1991 Halloween Havoc and how fucked up that was. They then crack on Mick’s issues with lighting stuff on fire. Hayes talks about his own bad moment when he and Jimmy Garvin were doing a new Freebird song called “I’m a Freebird what’s your excuse” and relays a story of how WCW screwed up the audio and cracks on Garvin not knowing the lyrics anyway. Hayes is singing and Jimmy is reading his lips but there’s no audio and it was a disaster in the live audience. Luckily they had studio rehearsal footage to go to.
(They show clips of this abomination and it’s as bad…hell it’s much worse than Hayes describes. Garvin’s lip synching is Volkoff quality bad. The clip goes on a little too long though.)
Patterson talks about being on a European tour and the promoter in the final show did a horrible job and it was a bad crowd so Patterson decides to have fun and switch up the theme musics. Bret Hart comes out to pomp and circumstance, etc.
The Bottom Line: Tremendous stuff from the guys for the most part but it tailed off after 45 minutes.