Repost: Legends of Wrestling–Worst Characters

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Legends of Wrestling: The Worst Characters in Wrestling – Your host is Mean Gene, and we’re featuring Mick Foley, Pat Patterson, Michael Hayes and Dusty Rhodes. – Mick’s pick is Mantaur, and all the bad characters at that time pissed him off because he was trying to break into the WWF at that point. He relates a story about getting ribbed by Shane Douglas in 1988 off that. – Michael’s pick (and he can’t pick Gobbledygooker or Red Rooster according to Gene) so he goes with Shockmaster. And thankfully we get the clip, because this channel rules the universe. Dusty shoulders the blame for that one, but then notes that David Crockett had nailed a 2×4 to reinforce the wall from earlier in the day, which is what Ottman tripped over on the way out. – So we move right into Dusty’s pick off that story, and he just has to pick Gobbledygooker. Pat blames Vince McMahon 100%. And hey, we get the clip of THAT, too. Gene’s disgusted “Who in the HELL came up with the Gobbledygooker?” is great to hear. Pat wonders how Dusty went out and wore polka-dots every night in the WWF. Dusty replies: “Half a million dollars a year is how I went out and wore them, daddy.” That leads into a discussion of whether Vince was trying to bury him, but Dusty says that he didn’t care because he was going to get it over out of spite if he had to. Funny story about skimming off Ted Dibiase’s money (“Three for the fans, two for me.”) – Mick brings the subject back to Mike Shaw and how he managed to get all his stupid characters over until the WWF couldn’t figure him out. Michael reveals that Ole Anderson had a personal grudge against Shaw for some reason, which is why he was depushed and fired from WCW at that point. – Back to the Gobbledygooker, as Mick speculates that they wanted to debut Undertaker in the egg, but then changed their minds at the last minute. Pat thought it would be Ric Flair, as Vince was being so secretive about the surprise that no one actually knew who was going to be in it. – So now we gotta talk about Red Rooster, and Mick relates the famous story about how both Taylor and Hennig came in on the same day and basically a coin toss dictated that Hennig got Mr. Perfect and Terry got Red Rooster. Pat wonders what’s wrong with a cock in the ring, anyway? And on that note, we take a break for some reason and have a commercial for the pay channel we’re already watching. Is this show normally on the preview channel or something? – Mick does his Vince impression while relating the story of how he almost became Mason the Mutilator, and that leads to talking about the stupid names they almost foisted onto Steve Austin. Ice Dagger, indeed. – Michael rages against Ole Anderson having Harlem Heat come out in chains. Good thing the black community has Michael Hayes fighting for them! Mick launches from there into Ron Simmons initial look as Faarooq. – Pat thinks that his time as a Stooge was a bad gimmick, although apparently Brisco loves dressing in drag. Unfortunately we get a clip of the drag Hardcore match from King of the Ring 2000. – Next topic: Bad characters that actually WORKED. Dusty starts with Goldust and how it worked so well that Dustin now feels naked without the facepaint. Hayes notes that Razor Ramon actually refused to work with him because it was so out there. Dusty admits that he didn’t like the gimmick at the time and he always kind of resented that they’d do that his son. But it grew on him later. – They talk about the many failed gimmicks of Scott Hall, and how Diamond Studd morphed into Razor Ramon (complete with a COOL transition of Diamond Studd starting the Razor’s Edge and turning into Ramon doing the move), and how it worked because Razor Ramon was in him all along, waiting to get out. – They talk about George Steele, complete with the awesome bit from Tuesday Night Titans where George gets shock treatment and briefly speaks like a normal person. Sadly, the quack doctor gives him too much juice and fries his brain again. – Mick talks about how Vince thought pop culture was passing him by in 1997, so he started telling the guys that they’d have to put more of themselves into the characters rather than just interchanging garbagemen and plumbers. This leads to talking about Undertaker and how he’s been able to survive with the same gimmick for 18 years because of his passion. Although really the gimmick itself has changed drastically four or five times. – And this leads us to the worst moments in wrestling history. Dusty talks about the electric chair debacle at Hallowen Havoc 91, and the less said about that the better. Mick brings up throwing a fireball at Paul Bearer in 1997 and doing so badly at it that Undertaker had to take the flash paper and do it himself. – Michael talks about trying to follow “Badstreet USA” with “I’m a Freebird And What’s Your Excuse” and bombing with it, which leads to Mick doing his Dusty impression to explain why Missy Hyatt got dumped into a bucket of water. The whole “New Freebirds” thing was pretty stupid, indeed. Mick is still bitter because he and Van Hammer got the “best match” bonus that night and Abdullah cut himself into it because of his run-in. – Pat wraps things up with a quick story about running a show in Quebec with arena staff who could barely speak English and mixed all the entrance music up…and we get CLIPS! A really fun and interesting show, and they should just let them talk for 3 hours because it would be way better than the current product on PPV, I’d bet. I hope these stick around on Sasktel.

LoW Roundtable: Worst Characters

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.

Blog Topic: Characters based on real life people or events

Hey Scott —
I thought this might be an interesting topic, especially for younger fans who may be aware of certain wrestling characters but unaware of the original inspiration for them.  Obviously wrestling has lots of characters based on general archetypes or occupations (garbage men, plumbers, tax men, etc.) but a fair amount have been inspired by real people and events or characters in popular fiction.

A few obvious ones that I can think of:
Cactus Jack:  Once known as Cactus Jack Manson, a gimmick that was chosen due to Foley's passing resemblance to cult leader Charles Manson.  I suppose the gimmick had some aping of Manson characteristics early on as well.
Sgt. Slaughter: As an Iraqi sympathizer in response the the incredibly high ratings for CNNs coverage of the 1990-1991 Gulf War / military conflict.
Magnum T.A.: Based upon the look and namesake of Tom Selleck's character Magnum P.I.
The Bolsheviks:  In reference to the Russian Revolution, but mostly just used to exploit ongoing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
"Perstroika" Nikolai Volkoff:  Vince's way of reflecting the change in the relationship with the Soviet Union as well as its dissolution (via a face turn and teaming with Jim Duggan) and the falling of the Berlin Wall.
Vince McMahon:  Well, he must be based on a Roman Emperor like Caligula — with all the family in-fighting, potential for incest and insatiable appetite for power.
Two I have wondered about are Nikita Koloff and Berlyn.  

I assume Berlyn was supposed to be some sort of Holocaust denier, but was there anything specific in the news at the time that may have prompted that character?  Nikita Koloff I always assumed was just a generic Cold War villain, but was he actually based on a specific person?
Any others?

Berlyn came out of nowhere as far as inspiration that I can remember.  Koloff was just your standard evil Russian.  
A few more I can add off the top of my head:  "Simon Dean" was a rib on Dean Malenko (real name Dean Simon), and obviously Steven Richards as the leader of the RTC was a subtle comment on L. Brent Bozell.  There's tons of others because wrestling isn't known for its creativity and originality, generally speaking.  

Greatest comedy characters in wrestling history?

With so many attempts at comedy week after week from the WWE (and a lot of them failing), the one constant performer who hits the mark most of the time is Santino Marella, who for my money, has been the funniest guy they've had since The Rock in his prime. From his tea party for Sheamus ("Let's see, we have green tea, we have ginger tea–oh.") to getting laughs even when encountering Kane ("Where's Punk?!" "Did you try the Pepsi machine?"), Santino seems to get the job done every time. So I was wondering about who Scott Keith had in his pantheon of comedy-act wrestlers, as well as the Commenters of Doom.

First up, if you're reading this, I've managed to figure out a fix to the e-mail posting situation, so HUZZAH!
Second, I laughed heartily at Billy Gunn's entire career, so that might count.  If not, Mick Foley used to hit it out of the park when called upon to be the comedy guy, especially the classic stuff with E&C.  He had the timing down and he was a likeable enough guy that people would laugh with him as opposed to at him.  Big Show also has really good comic timing, even if the material hasn't always been the best.  Kurt Angle, of course.  Honky Tonk Man made a career out of comedy matches, although he was never really part of the era that did comedy outside of the ring.  

Characters

Scott,
Who do you think are some of the best/worst ‘casting’ decisions in wrestling history?  I mean in terms of look and personality matching the character role, nothing to do with strength of booking or push.
Example: Rick Martel as an arrogant ‘Model’ seemed a natural fit for him; Ric Flair as Joe Namath-type; Ted Dibiase or JBL as the elitist rich guy seemed like the perfect roles to get them over; Steve Austin as defiant redneck troublemaker; or Glenn Jacobs without the mask just LOOKS like a menacing killer.  Marcus Bagwell might have initially seemed like a guy who could be the all-American pretty boy, but he didn’t find his niche until he became full of himself while running from fights.
Conversely, I look at Jim Duggan’s face and see a guy who should have played a Charles Manson-type sadist, not the affable fan-favorite patriot.  Alex Wright being used as a babyface early in his WCW run never made sense to me–everything about a disco-dancing euro-trash pretty boy screams ‘heel’ to me.  Do any examples jump out at you of guys whose look/personality were either perfect or seemed better suited for another character?

Interesting you would bring up Steve Austin, because anyone watching from his debut until 1996 would not have pegged him as a hell-raising redneck in any form.  In fact, his run as Stunning Steve Austin was just as perfect a bit of casting, as the smart-ass troublemaker.  I’d almost say Goldberg would have been better “casting” in Austin’s role in a lot of ways.  So it’s a very subjective question. I would say that one of the cases of the WORST casting was the New Blood during the Russo era of WCW, where Chuck Palumbo was made into the Lex Luger mold and Shawn Stasiak was turned into Mr. Perfect, and clearly they would have been perfect in the reversed roles.  Like you’re looking for a narcissistic douchebag and you DON’T make Stasiak into that character?  No wonder they went out of business.