For part two we delve deeper into the wacky world of professional wrestling and ask the eternal question "what the fuck were they thinking? The problem is who do we direct this question to? The people who came up with these ideas or the fans who actually put them over? In case you missed it, here's a recap of the list so far, counting from 15-11:
15. The Undertaker (Wrestling Zombie)
14. Famous Wrestler Under a Mask (Hulk Hogan as Mr. America, Dusty Rhodes as Midnight Rider, etc)
13. Wrestling's Pimps (Slick and Godfather)
12. Spirit Squad (Wrestling Cheerleaders)
11. "Gay" Wrestlers (Gorgeous George, Adorable Adrian Adonis, Billy and Chuck)
Now, without further adieu, I give you the middle part of this Top 15 countdown of the dumbest wrestling characters that actually got over.10. Dusty Rhodes: The WWF Version
Once again The American Dream makes this list. This is a testament not only to the shitty characters and storylines he has been a part of over the years, but his undying popularity and charisma. Rhodes definitely ranks in the top four all time as far as natural charisma goes (one could make a strong argument for #2) and I think that if for some reason Hulk Hogan were not available during the WWF expansion in the mid 1980's the only wrestlers who could have possibly even come close to pulling off such a feat in their primes were Superstar Billy Graham and Dusty Rhodes.
During those Hulkamania years Dusty was working for Jim Crockett Promotions, which was the biggest, most powerful territory in the National Wrestling Alliance (located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region: Virginia, Carolinas etc) not only as one of their biggest attractions in the ring but as a behind the scenes booker as well. JCP lasted as long as it did (before being bought out by Ted Turner and becoming World Championship Wrestling - WCW) due in part to Dusty's booking, it was a more gritty, edgier, "adult" alternative to the cartoonish WWF. The WWF took notice of their biggest threat and when Ted Dibiasi made his debut as the Million Dollar Man his "bodyguard/manservant" was given the name "Virgil" which is Dusty's real first name.
It was during the early part of the Turner years that Dusty was given his walking papers. Turner Broadcasting had laid down an edict that there was to be no bloodletting and Dusty booked an angle in which the Road Warriors took one of the spikes off of their shoulder pads and drove it into his eye. This would open the door for Dusty to come to the WWF, only this was not the same Dusty that his fans were used to. Everybody's favorite rotund wrestler was doing vignettes in which he was a plumber, pizza delivery man and tended to horse stables, which was typical for Titan Sports at the time. However the "worst" was yet to come.
Shortly after his in ring debut Dusty started wearing polka dots...lots and lots of giant polka dots covering his giant ass. Fans from JCP/WCW had to be looking on in horror and smarks back in the day had to wonder if this was Vince McMahon's way of trying to stick it to Rhodes again and make sure that he fail up north. He was eventually paired up with Sapphire (Rhodes' answer to Elizabeth) a short, frumpy, middle-aged black woman who also wore polka dots and danced to the ring. While anybody in their right mind would think "this should fail and it will fail" Dusty was actually able to get over with Sapphire and his polka-dots, putting together a nice run in the WWF with successful feuds with the likes Dibiasi, Randy Savage, Honky Tonk Man and Big Boss Man. And to those who thought that the polka dots was a way for Vince to screw Dusty, think again. According to Rhodes himself it was all his idea.9. Dude Love
Mick Foley, known for his brutal hardcore matches as Cactus Jack and Mankind, would eventually one become one of the top "B level" wrestlers during the "Attitude Era" of the late 90's-early 00's. By "B level" I mean that we was never on par with the likes of Austin or the Rock as far as popularity goes but that at one point he was at the same level as guys like Triple H and the Undertaker. Dude Love was a character that Foley played in old home videos of his backyard wrestling antics that they decided to bring to the WWF, and to this day I wonder how this character got over at all.
Dude was a tie-dyed "ladies man" who would put his hands over his knees and wobble them to and fro and call that dancing. He spoke in a way that a baby boomer's parents would have spoke to their teenager to try to appear cool only to show that they were anything but, and as you can tell from the picture above Foley was far from a "ladies man". Dude was over-the-top ridiculous, a far departure from the tortured soul Mankind (although that character would be softened up with the introduction of Mr. Socko) or the hardcore death match king Cactus Jack. Most of all, Dude Love was a geek, a dork, someone you wouldn't be caught hanging around in public. Nevertheless Dude still got over, although not the heights that Mankind or Cactus did. My theory is that Dude is the closest character to the real Mick Foley, which allowed for more of his true self to shine through.8. "The Model" Rick Martel
In order to get a wrestling fashion model over you need a few things in one man to make it work. First, this wrestler has to be genuinely good looking. Second, he has to be able to play the heel because there is no way that the mostly male wrestling fan is going to cheer for a guy who's whole shtick is that he's better looking than they are; so he's going to have to play it as cocky and arrogant. From the start Rick Martel had one of those qualities, but it needed to be seen whether or not he could actually pull off being a heel because through the vast majority of his career he had been a babyface. By this time Martel was by no means a newcomer, having won the AWA Heavyweight Championship and had two seperate runs as WWF Tag Team Champion: once with Tony Garea and one with Tito Santana as Strike Force.
Shortly after turning on Santana after Wrestlemania V Martel donned the character of the Model, and despite being a rather bland babyface through the majority of his career he somehow managed to pull it off. Borrowing a bit from Gorgeous George he carried an atomizer with a perfume he called "Arrogance" (as seen in the pic) that he would spray around the ring and on his opponents. This led to a major feud with Jake "the Snake" Roberts which saw Martel spray Arrogance in his eyes then have his Survivor Series team (named The Visionaries, a play off of Roberts' injury) become the first team in Survivor Series history in which none of its members were eliminated from the match and eventually culminate in a "blindfold match" at Wrestlemania VII in which Jake finally got his revenge.
For some reason wrestling characters who are overtly full of themselves tend to fail more often than succeed. "The Narcissist" Lex Luger and "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters are a couple of names I can think of off hand that were not successful. For some reason though, Martel, who was getting to test his acting chops for the first time, actually managed to pull it off. Perhaps it was the Arrogance perfume, or the "Yes. I Am A Model" button (which was my favorite thing to say to people who would ask me if they could ask me a question) or just the over the top way Martel approached the character, but I'll always remember "The Model" as one of the first heel wrestlers that I actively cheered for.7. Evil Canadians
OK, this is one that for the life I'll never get. I know there have been evil foreigners in wrestling since...FOREVER. "Germans" like Baron Von Rasche and Fritz Von Erich, Russians like Ivan Koloff and Nicolai Volkoff and Middle Easterners like the Iran Sheik I can understand: at one point the US had conflict with these countries. But Canada? Motherfucking CANADA? Give me a break!
This all started when the "Attitude Era" was dawning in late 1990's WWF. Bret Hart had been the WWF's flag bearer for quite some time, and while he was never as big as Hulk Hogan he still reached a certain level of popularity. Stone Cold Steve Austin had hit the scene and despite intially being a heel the fans began to cheer him. It only made sense that Austin would soon "turn" and be a face, and in the process Bret also turned and became a heel. He teamed up with his brother Owen, his brother in-law the British Bulldog, Brian Pillman (who had been trained in Calgary by Bret's father Stu) and former tag team championship partner Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart to form a stable named after said tag team: the Hart Foundation.
What made this heel stable so evil, you ask? It's that they were Canadian. That's right folks, the evil Canadians wanted to take over the wrestling world and make sure the Maple Leaf flew higher than the Stars and Stripes. After all, everybody remembers the real life strife between the two countries, right? Oh wait...that's right: there was no "real life strife" between the US and Canada! The closest there might have been was when Canada was opening it borders to draft dodgers during the Vietnam War, but that was more than 20 years before this angle took place. Nevertheless this angle somehow got over and fans delighted in booing the nefarious hockey lovers.
In WCW a couple of years later, with pseudo-genius Vince Russo at the helm (as he was when the new Hart Foundation angle went down in WWF) another team of evil Canadians was born. Led by Lance Storm and featuring Mike Awesome and an evil, shaven Hacksaw Jim Duggan (neither of which were Canadian) Team Canada reigned over the dying WCW. Storm even went so far as remaning the WCW US Title the Candian Heavyweight Championship and put a Canadian flag sticker over it. He would also rename the Cruiserweight title (the 100 Kilos and Under Title) and the Hardcore Title (Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title); all three belts he held consecutively. Team Canada was nowhere near as over as the Hart Foundation, but it still elicited a crowd reaction, which is more than I can say for most of what WCW had to offer on its deathbed.6. Brother Love
If there's one thing that watching wrestling for oh so long has taught me is that for the most part, professional wrestling and religion don't mix. From Friar Ferguson to Reverend D-Von to Shawn Michaels teaming up with "God" there's usually something about religious angles that falls flat. The one time it did work though was when wrestling poked fun at televangelism with Brother Love. Bruce Pritchard smeared red makeup on his face, took on a disingenuous southern accent and hosted an interview segament called "The Brother Love Show" which would feature Love at a pulpit degrading the top faces of the day such as Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior and siding the top heels like Ted Dibiasi and Big Boss Man.
Brother Love was also the first manager of the man who started off this list, The Undertaker. This wouldn't last long as he would soon be replaced by Paul Bearer. On his "show" he had a "blind and crippled" man see and walk, again taking a shot at the charlatan televangelists of the day. A character that should have probably been shot down in the creative meeting it was first pitched actually lasted for a couple of years and is fondly remembered by old school fans today.
Coming Soon: Part3, the top 5.
- A wrestler Peter North and John Holmes could relate to
- The King didn't die, he became Intercontinental Champion
- "We got a great big convoy..."