Two weeks ago, Paste Comics editor Sean Edgar decided it would be fun to subject me to the world of comic books by forcing me to describe different characters based only on an illustration. I had never seen any of the characters in my life, and comic books aren’t really my thing, so it was the equivalent of forcing a monkey to read Moby Dick out loud to amuse a bunch of brandy-sipping professors. Or something.
I thought this was a one-time piece of torture, but I should have known better. The piece had hardly been published before another editor, Jim Vorel, aggressively strong-armed me into repeating the exercise. This time, though, we’d be switching our focus to professional wrestling, another past-time that’s almost completely foreign to me. I remember watching Hulk Hogan one time as a very young child, and my dad even bought me an action figure, but beyond that, I legitimately could not name another professional wrestler, besides Ric Flair. Oh wait—’The Rock.’ I can name ‘The Rock.’ But that’s it. I just couldn’t get into the idea of scripted sports, unless that scripted sport was Satan writing the Dallas Cowboys into back-to-back Super Bowl championships. But I digress.
The point is, I’ve been backed into a corner again. Below, you’ll find five photos of actual wrestlers—so I’m told, anyway—along with my flailing attempts to guess their gimmicks and histories. Jim will chime in when I’m done with the actual answer, and everyone can mock me.
Backstory: Good God. It’s like some obscene combination of a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger and a Transformer, but with a color scheme designed by your weird second-grade teacher who always wore cat sweaters and got a special glint in her eye whenever she said the words “arts and crafts.” I’m getting a very “hydraulic” aesthetic from this guy, based on the pneumatic tube-like things running over his shoulders, biceps, and hips, and the fact that the bulky equipment on his forearms looks vaguely robotic. It’s all very lo-fi, though, which makes me think he was probably forced to make actual robot noises every time he took a new step in the ring. SHEEEING. SHOOOONG. SHEEEING. SHOOONG. And are those dual microphones on his left wrist? Is he secretly a journalist? I like to imagine he’s a Carl Monday type, ambushing people with embarrassing questions about their personal lives. Also, he’s clearly a rubber fetishist.
Wrestler Name: Rubber, the Pastel Paparazzo.
Finishing Move: “The Vacuum,” whereby he jumps out at you from behind a bush, asks about your darkest secret, and then uses his tubes to vacuum out your esophagus.
Actual Answer: Shane, it might surprise you to know that “Mike Wallace-style ambush journalist” is actually not the most popular wrestling gimmick, for whatever reason. This poor sap’s stage name was “Maximillian Moon,” or simply “Max Moon” for short. The gimmick was supposed to be something like “man of the future”—I believe those are like laser guns strapped to his arms, although disintegrating one’s opponent is a definite disqualification, so I don’t think he ever used them. Regardless, this is clearly what the future looked like to the WWF in 1992. It was a gimmick created for a wrestler named Konnan who left the company, so the already-created costume was stuck on the next guy in line. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t make much of an impact, and the highlight of his career was probably wrestling against Shawn Michaels in an unsuccessful Intercontinental Championship match on the first-ever broadcast of Monday Night Raw in early 1993. He was released from the company shortly thereafter—thus goes the Man of Tomorrow. — Jim Vorel
Backstory: Hmmm…a bit more low-key here, if you can call a muscle-bound dude pretending to know karate “low-key.” Let’s start with the colors, which are almost like the Mexican flag, except for that pesky yellow. Which, to be fair, is pretty much the predominant color. The mask almost seems unnecessary in this case, right? It also seems very amateur, like someone wrapped a paper bag around his head, spray-painted it yellow, and then cut out holes for the eyes. I feel like I’m starting to get a little mean here, which isn’t what I want, especially because if this person is still alive, he could absolutely kick my ass. My only defense would be to make a run for the nearest body of water, because I can tell by the floaties on his arms that he can’t swim. As a last thing, and I hesitate to even bring this up, but my eyes can’t help but be drawn to the undergarments, and how friggin’ tight they look around the unmentionables. I hope he doesn’t wear that outfit too often, because, like riding a bike, it seems like too much pressure in that … area … can’t be good for the plumbing. I wonder how many octaves his voice rises when he dons the undies?
Wrestler Name: The Sterile Land Sensei.
Finishing Move: The Floatie Chop.
Actual Answer: Shane, you were so close with your flag hypothesis! His colors are indeed inspired by a flag, but it’s not Mexico—it’s Portugal! This guy’s name was “Aldo Montoya,” the “Portuguese Man ‘O War,” because naming a wrestler for a jellyfish was clearly a can’t-miss idea. As was doing a Portuguese nationalist gimmick as a good guy wrestler, because clearly there are so many Portuguese supporters in the U.S. to get behind the guy. Another product of the WWF’s very sad mid-’90s period of creative bankruptcy, viewers reacted to Aldo Montoya with a resounding “meh” and he eventually left to join the renegade Philly federation ECW, where he became a big star named “Justin Credible” in hardcore matches. He later returned to the WWF as himself in 2001 and had slightly more success, and nobody ever mentioned that weird Portuguese guy with a jock strap on his face again. — Jim Vorel
Backstory: GAHHHH. NO. NO. NO. WHICH HAIR IS FAKE AND WHICH IS REAL?!?!!!?
Calming down for a moment, I think we can safely say that the abs are fake. Let’s start there, because it’s sort of sad. I’m assuming this wrestler’s actual torso is not fit enough to be displayed in public, so he has to wear some sort of chest piece that couldn’t be any more conspicuous if it was just a hanging medal worn around his neck that said, “GREAT BODY GOES HERE.” I believe the fur on his arms and legs is also fake, while the beard seems basically real. Staying on his face, the expression seems a little half-hearted in terms of its anger, like he’s getting a bit sick of the whole “frightening hirsute giant” act, but knows he has to pay the bills. There aren’t many other clues, beyond the photographer’s inability to correctly frame this photograph using the gray backdrop behind him. He looks like maybe he’s from one of the former Soviet republics, or the middle east, but I feel like if I develop this line of thinking much further, I’ll probably start offending people. Best just to take my guess…
Wrestler Name: Big Scary Hairy the Furious Furry
Finishing Move: The Rug Burn. Exactly what it sounds like.
Actual Answer: People are going to be thoroughly offended, because you had the wrong hemisphere entirely: This dude is Argentinian. If it’s any consolation, I hear everyone looks like a partially shaved Sasquatch there. He went by the name “Giant Gonzales” when he showed up in the WWF in 1993 (noticing a timeline pattern here?), and is famous for being one of the most immobile, least talented men to ever suit up, but that didn’t matter because he was 7’6’’. You’re completely right about the reason for his body suit: He didn’t exactly have “wrestler muscles,” so the company decided to put him in a full body, airbrushed suit covered in cartoon muscles, because who’s gonna notice that? The only reason he’s remembered today, beyond the body suit, is that he fought The Undertaker in a horrendous match at Wrestlemania IX and lost by disqualification after he used a chloroform-soaked rag to knock The Undertaker out cold. It’s significant as being the only time in the Undertaker’s famous Wrestlemania win streak that he won by DQ. Gonzales, meanwhile, lumbered off from the WWF only a few months later. — Jim Vorel
Backstory: Hey, it’s an asymmetrical metallic outfit, the kind you see in bad movies about what mercenary soldiers will look like in the future. Also, Jim, why are you giving me so many wrestlers with masks? Is this masking phenomenon normal? Why are they all trying to hide their identities? My only guess is that they’re all sex offenders who don’t want to be recognized by their parole officers.
ANYWHO. On the breast plate, there’s a symbol that looks like three triangles, each with a bat or a genie lamp or something inside. In the story of Aladdin, there’s a genie lamp inside a cave, and caves have bats, so let’s roll with this for a moment. Didn’t the genie in Aladdin have purple skin? Checking the Internet…yup This guy is purple too. I think we have our answer.
Wrestler Name: Future Genie.
Finishing Move: The Granted Wish. He asks you for your one wish, at which point he pretends to mishear you. “Oh, you want me to WRECK YOU?!” he asks. And you’re like, “um, no, I wished for a million dollars,” but it’s too late. He’s already on you in a flash, hitting you over the head with a lamp. Game over.
Actual Answer: Masks are important in wrestling, Shane. You never question the masks. Never, unless you want to be the heel announcer screaming “What is he hiding?” This guy was called “Glacier,” and he’s what happens when a wrestling federation tries too hard to be hip and relevant based on what those punk kids are into these days. Specifically, Glacier was meant to be a rip-off of Mortal Kombat’s Sub Zero character, presumably this version here, judging from the weird vest thing, while retaining the mask of the original. Unlike some of the earlier wrestlers on this list, Glacier was meant to be a STAR, and as a result WCW gave him a mega-push when he debuted in 1996, complete with an extravagant entrance full of fake snow and blue laser lights. After that, he was seen as the Next Big Thing for a short time before fading away into relative obscurity, despite being undefeated for roughly a year. But if the audience doesn’t care, that accolade doesn’t matter much. — Jim Vorel
Backstory: I guess he’s the dog jester of death? That’s a dog skull on his face, right?
Wrestler Name: The Dog Jester of Death.
Finishing Move: Woof, Woof, Ha, Ha…Death.
Actual Answer: This guy’s name is “Mortis,” and he’s actually directly connected to Glacier above. See, as it turns out, if you’re going to have Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat in your fed, you should also have his arch-nemesis, Scorpion. Mortis was supposed to essentially be Scorps, except this time they didn’t even try to make them look anything alike, except for both having a fondness for skulls. What, were they out of yellow fabric entirely? And the jester stick? Your guess is as good as mine. Mortis was played by the genuinely talented Chris Kanyon, who went on to better things in WCW under his own name while occasionally resurrecting the Mortis character for years to come, seemingly for his own amusement. — Jim Vorel