*Disclaimer: Someone brought a good point on my previous article. He mentioned that a lot of the details I used seemed so ridiculous that it had to be internet rumors and random assumptions on my part and that I was presenting them as facts, however, every detail I talked about came from a primary source. Lords of Pain has a very loose rule that columnists cannot link off the site, but I don’t feel comfortable posting facts that I can’t rightfully cite, so this will be the last column you see from me without citations. Any column I write following this one will have a list of citations. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. The details in this column come from Bischoff, Dustin Rhodes, Ray Lloyd, and Gene Simmons. Enjoy 4 Gimmicks WCW Screwed Up Instantly.*
Eric Bischoff really wanted a gimmick that would resonate with the younger demographic, Bischoff recalls in an interview by Stone Cold Steve Austin. There had to be a gimmick that the brain behind the nWo could come up with that the children could relate to. Oh, I know! That Mortal Kombat game that children aren’t allowed to play! Nailed it. The gimmick was played by Ray Lloyd – a legit badass in mixed martial arts, former government agent, and a US Marshall. He even competed in the biggest tournaments. What could possibly go wrong with a resume like that? Maybe the fact that karate has literally nothing to do with pro-wrestling because you can’t fake roundhouse kick a brick over your opponent’s face?
Eric Bischoff had his hands all over the Glacier gimmick more than anyone which means this gimmick had everything thrown at it that it possibly could. The teaser vignettes were amazing. The video contained a camera focusing on the Glacier logo like how Mortal Kombat did in their movie intro. The tag line was “blood runs cold,” which you can’t get any cooler than that. When they finally gave us a look of Glacier, he was decked out head to toe in Mortal Kombat’s Sub-Zero’s ninja attire and kicked the air like it was Stone Cold’s wife. It was breath-taking and impossible not to be hyped for this. So, what went wrong?
First, the idea behind the gimmick didn’t translate well. Tony Schiavone pointed out that there was no way anyone could have lived up to that kind of hype, and it’s true, especially when your gimmick is that you’re the guy who murders people with ice and then rips out their spine.
Second, when you rip-off literally every aspect from someone’s copyrighted property, what tends to happen is you get your ass sued because duh. According to Bischoff, Midway, the owners of the Mortal Kombat property, sent WCW a cease and desist letter over a year after his debut, presumably because his debut was so terrible that it was on literally no one’s radar. Glacier was fed to “Buff” Bagwell, then to Goldberg, and to several random wrestlers. The gimmick lingered for a few more months until it became a joke, then Ray returned as Glacier a year later which became a literal joke as the commentators mocked the gimmick, and then scrapped all together.
Fun fact: I honestly thought Glacier had a chance of beating Goldberg because I was unaware that he had already lost twice to “Buff” Bagwell, and because I was a stupid, stupid kid.
The idea behind this gimmick was that Dustin Rhodes would be ripping off (surprise?) a movie, Dark City, according to Dustin Rhodes himself. He was even dressed as the Stranger from his hat down to his trench coat. His promo had shown him standing outside of a child’s bedroom window. Clearly supposed to be a boogeyman, right?
You’d think, except Turner executives disagreed, as told by Vince Russo. According to him, executes believed the gimmick looked too much like a pedophile. Makes sense, right? I mean, when I see a demonic character floating magically by a window which turned the child’s eyes pitch black, the first thing I think of is child rape. Now, if the issue was that Seven would resemble a child predator, maybe shoot the next promo from somewhere that isn’t a child’s room? Simple solution, right? Nah, let’s throw the gimmick away all together. Screw quick and easy solutions to tiny problems! Like having gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe so you set your entire house on fire.
Seven debuted with an extravagant entrance. Ominous music played, he would slowly walk out with fire shooting from both sides of the ramp and smoke engulfing the ground everywhere, and from there, he would float to the ring using a zipline as we all know pedophiles do. He grabs the mic and… the gimmick is dead. He tosses down his hat, denounces the gimmick, and the best part comes mid-promo where he stops all momentum he had built up from this shoot promo to say, “Oh, my name’s Seven by the way.” Great, now go molest children, you guy who’s given no implication you molest children.
WCW made a deal with KISS. They said they’d create a character no one wanted to see, let him fade immediately into obscurity, and then they’d pay KISS all the money. In both interviews and his autobiography, Gene Simmons talks about how WCW made the deal that if they could use KISS’s likeness to create a character then he would headline a PPV event and make a set amount of appearances. The end goal was to create a stable of KISS Demon’s that resembled all four members of KISS. After signing the contract, getting the rights to play KISS’s God of Thunder as a theme song, and kicking Bryan Adams out of the nWo so that he could play the character, the WCW executives fired Eric Bischoff for unrelated reasons and decided it was probably a stupid idea to use a character that looked more like a pedophile than Seven ever could, and scrapped it all together; presumably while burning hundred dollar bills for kicks and giggles. It doesn’t help that the KISS concert had one of the lowest TV ratings in WCW’s history, and this is in a timeline where Chad Brock, the country singer, also did a concert.
After KISS pushed back, demanding WCW honor the agreement, WCW gave the gimmick to Dale Torborg, and if you don’t know who that is… yup. To honor the contract that stated the KISS Demon had to main event a PPV, the Demon was placed into a “special main event” match against The Wall in the middle of a PPV, also known as a regular match against a mid-carder with nothing remotely special about it. Or, as we like to call it in the WWE community: a match. Eventually, the KISS aspect of the character’s name was dropped and he was just known as “The Demon,” joining with Vampiro and for some reason ICP. Because when I think KISS, I think ICP.
Okay, this one seems out of place. Please keep in mind that I’m referring to Tank Abbott the idea, and not Tank Abbott the guy who would murder me for saying he was crap. But he was. He could have been the Brock Lesnar before we knew we wanted Brock Lesnar, but no. First, he was terrible in the ring. Second, he was terrible on the mic. Third, he didn’t have the look. Fourth… wait, what was that noise behind me? Uh.. uh.. Tank Abbott was great. Totally great. Please don’t kill me.
If you don’t know why I’m so afraid of Abbott, look up the match where he pulled out a knife on his opponent on live TV for absolutely no reason. The camera panned off immediately and the commentators tried to play it off as Tank was trying to shave off his opponent’s beard, which would have totally worked had his opponent had a beard and if people shaved with a pocket knife. Tank Abbott would go off script constantly, according to Tony Schiavone, so much so that the commentators hated calling his segments. So, obviously Vince Russo wanted this guy to be WCW World champion.
Okay, now keep in mind that Vince Russo was only using Tank Abbott to put over Sid Vicious. The angle was going to be that Sid would participate in a rumble match that would see him make it all the way to the end and a fresh Tank Abbott would come down and sucker punch Sid over the top rope and win the title – Just so Sid Vicious could take him out the next night and win the title. Even though the idea of putting the title on Tank Abbott seems like a terrible idea, the concept that an MMA fighter could take out a wrestler who had been in a match for 30-minutes is believable and it was meant to make Sid Vicious the top babyface. Was this a good idea?
Not if you’re network executives. Once they got word that Vince Russo wanted to put the title on someone who would flat out murder half the roster if he found out they had more teeth than him, they fired Russo. Yes, because Russo was propositioning an angle they didn’t like, they fired him. Tank Abbott went on to dance with Three-Count the boyband, which is the polar opposite of pulling a knife on someone.
This is just my top 4 of a long list of WCW gimmicks that I felt WCW ruined too quickly. What is something that you felt WCW ended way too soon? This can be a gimmick, a feud, or an angle.
Name something in WCW that you felt ended too soon.
— Tim Rose (@TimRoseJr) October 19, 2018
I’m a freelance writer, freelance photoshopper, and freelance father. You can follow me @timrosetweeting, or find me on facebook. I write for multiple sites, have a job in finances, and have a holographic Charizard.