My personal nightmare has turned into a franchise. It started when Paste’s Sean Edgar made me write about comic book characters I had never seen based on illustrations. Twice. It continued when Jim Vorel borrowed the format for pro wrestlers, another of my cultural blind spots. So here we are again, with five more RASSLIN’ photos for me to decipher based on literally no knowledge.
All I can promise is that I’ll do my best, and my best will be terrible. Let’s begin!
Backstory: Well, clearly what we have here is an obese man who wears a Darth Vader helmet made out of tin foil, stone-washed jeans from the ‘80s with a filthy white belt, and the kind of frilly, unbuttoned doublet that you mostly see in Renaissance paintings of rich people. Just your typical wrestler! I also can’t help but notice that the wall behind him is busted, implying that he’s just walked through it like the Kool-Aid man, except in slow motion. Whether this is part of his act, or he hates doors, or he just can’t see out of his tin-foil Vader mask because he forgot to make eye holes, I’ll never know. Nor do I want to. So, for his backstory? I guess he’s just an overgrown Star Wars nerd with clothes he found in a vacant old barn. Also, I get the sense that he smells.
Wrestler Name: The Dirty Tin Vader (it almost sounds like invader!)
Finishing Move: The Force Choke, just like Darth. Except in this case, the opponent chokes from the heinous odor, and flees the ring.
Actual Answer: This guy is called “The Shockmaster,” and he holds the title for Worst (or best) Wrestling Debut of All Time. You’re completely right about the wall behind him, Shane—The Shockmaster was supposed to burst through the wall and into WCW like a badass. That’s what was SUPPOSED to happen. Instead, he burst through, tripped and fell flat on his face, his bedazzled storm trooper (right movie, wrong character) helmet flying off while Ric Flair audibly yells “Oh god!” in the background. Panic ensues for a few minutes before Ole Anderson recovers enough to provide The Shockmaster’s dubbed voice from backstage. The man behind the mask was actually former WWF wrestler Fred Ottman, who had the only slightly less cringe-worthy gimmick of Tugboat earlier in his career. Fred Ottman did not have good luck with wrestling gimmicks. — Jim Vorel
Backstory: Hey, it’s another character who seems to have really poor hygiene, and hasn’t done a tremendous job of leaving himself eye holes! This dude (I think?) looks like a dirty mummy, so maybe it’s an old pharaoh who just rose from the dead in Egypt, and decided the best use of his time was to appear on a scripted “sports” show in America. I really hope he has a match with the Dirty Tin Vader, just to watch the entire floor section of spectators leave in a blind panic as they gag from the smell. I also want to mention the footage in the background—I realize it’s almost definitely a wrestling match, but there’s a 1% chance it’s the worst porno ever made, right?
Wrestler Name: Philthy Pharaoh
Finishing Move: You catch a bacterial staph infection from his 4,000-year-old tape.
Actual Answer: You fell right into my trap, Shane. Looks like a mummy, right? Almost certainly a mummy, right? WRONG. This guy was called “The Yeti,” and was teased by WCW in 1995 as some kind of monster that had been released from a block of ice. When he lumbered awkwardly to the ring to make his debut, WCW announcer Tony Schiavone called him “The Yet-Tay,” further adding to the hilarity and awkwardness of the situation. He made only one or two more appearances before promptly being written off TV forever, and the wrestler who played him, Ron Reis, went on to play a variety of other largely unsuccessful characters. — JV
Backstory: GAH. I just jumped backward about five feet when I saw that mask. This is the creepiest thing I’ll see today, unless today turns out to be really awful. Before we go any further, though, I want to congratulate this wrestler on leaving himself eye holes—really well planned, by wrestler standards. But man, that mask…why is it so aggressively feminine? Why did he bedazzle around the nose and eyes? Why everything? I can’t tell if he’s supposed to be some kind of a cat or bear, but I think it’s one of the two, and based on the narrow eyes, I’ll stick with cat. And who knows? Maybe this shit was considered sexy in the ‘80s. The ‘80s was a weird decade.
Wrestler Name: Bedazzle, the Sensual Puma
Finishing Move: The Purr & Nuzzle (this also sounds like the name of a British pub)
Actual Answer: You’re right about the animal, Shane—this dude’s name was “Battle Kat”—and almost right about the year, because he arrived in 1990. The “K” is a product of those times, I imagine: Everyone in 1990 knew that swapping a “K” for a “C” made things harder and edgier, which this guy clearly needed in spades. “Intimidation,” as you observed, was not really Battle Kat’s game: he danced down to the ring in a purple cape. Rather, it was his “cat-like reflexes” and gymnastic abilities that were supposed to sell the character as a fan favorite. The fans, however, didn’t pounce, and Battle Kat sidled out of the WWF after a few months. — JV
Backstory: TT 2000, BABY! LOVE THESE GUYS. THE SILVER BROS! With their luscious long locks, their Geordi-from-Star-Trek-esque eye strips, and the general sense that we are living in the future, I’m all about this tag team duo. I mean, how’s this for some forward-looking shit: Their zippers go from the top down. Mind blown? Get used to it, because that’s how things work in the future. My guess is that these bros—and I think they’re literal brothers—grew up in the mean streets of Tokyo, duking it out with the Yakuza after they lost someone near and dear to senseless violence. Eventually, an old samurai took them under his wing, and trained them up for their big revenge. Now they’re bringing their east-west fusion aesthetic to the WWF, and woe to all who stand in their way. The dude on the right looks particularly vicious, and while the bigger bro still has a sense of humor, he’s not about to stand for any nonsense.
Wrestler Names: The Ya-Two-Za Cruizas (So terrible, sorry)
Finishing Move: Chopsticks, where they both just kind of crush a dude between them. Also, “Chopsticks” has to be playing on a nearby piano.
Actual Answer: I’m a little surprised you noticed the “TT 2000” but didn’t apply it to their tag team name, which is the ludicrously spelled “Tekno Team 2000,” applying the “K” rule yet again. As you guessed, they were meant to look TOTALLY FUTURISTIC AND WOW … almost in the same vein as “Max Moon” from the first set of wrestlers we considered, in fact. These guys actually got off to a pretty good start in 1995’s WWF before being sent back down to developmental to train—this is also presumably where someone noticed how ridiculous their costumes were. They aren’t real-life brothers, but they did continue to wrestle as a team outside the WWF well past the arrival of the millennium they were named after. — JV
Backstory: Forget it. I’m out.
Paces around angrily for ten minutes
I don’t know, man. I DON’T KNOW. I don’t know about the jute rope messenger bag he’s wearing, or the star mask (good eye holes, though) or the gloves made out of black tape, or anything. This too much, Jim. There are too many themes happening here. I’m feeling like a computer that has just been asked to process too much data. My head is smoking. I need a break.
Wrestler Name: HERMES STAR, THE CONVEYOR
Finishing Move: Gives his opponent a gift from his bag, but it turns out to be cursed somehow. Leave me alone, I’m tired.
Actual Answer: To be perfectly honest, I have almost no more information than you on what the hell is going on with this guy. He was played by Ed Leslie, best known as WWF’s Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, during one of his many switches between characters. In 1991, he reappeared as this masked man, who would run in and attack bad guys before fleeing the scene. The character was never given a name, and most of his getup is totally unexplained. Star mask? Your guess is as good as mine. The bag on his chest? I didn’t even realize it was a bag when I sent you the photo, Shane. I thought it was some sort of samurai wicker armor breastplate! I’m still not sure, but I think I’d rather live in the universe where your assessment was accurate. — JV