And so, this week's Tuesday Top 10 was born. If you're a fan of both wrestling and horror, maybe you'll get a kick out of this list of the most frightening professional wrestlers of all time. And if not, maybe you'll at least get a morbid thrill at gawking at this gaggle of oiled-up freaks...
10. Waylon Mercy
I've got to hand it to the boys in WWF creative--creating a wrestling gimmick built around DeNiro's Max Cady character in Cape Fear was a touch of brilliance. Veteran wrestler Dangerous Danny Spivey donned this persona during his mid 1990s run at the big W.
9. Big Van Vader
This Rocky Mountain behemoth wreaked havoc in Japan (appropriately) in the early '90s, then WCW, where he once broke a guy's back (legit), and finally the WWF, where his name was shortened to Vader (hello, Lucasfilm lawsuit). His early demonic headgear was particularly terrifying.
Known as the Vampire Warrior early in his career, David Heath was christened with this name--inspired by (read: stolen from) the popular horror role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. He was known to douse his opponents with a "blood bath" from the rafters from time to time...
7. Papa Shango
Inspired by voodoo mysticism, the Shango character injected an element of the supernatural not really seen in rasslin up to that point. Who can forget the time he made the Ultimate Warrior puke, or made black goo poor from Mean Gene's shirtsleeves? Ironically, Charles Wright would later transform into, of all things, a pimp character called The Godfather.
6. The Boogeyman
A decade later, WWE took the Shango concept to the next level, giving us this worm-eating, walking nightmare, whose pre-match gyrations always reminded me of something out of The Serpent and the Rainbow. And take it from someone who witnessed the backstage "worm-wranglers" first-hand--those critters were real.
The psychotic "half-brother" of the Undertaker, the Big Red Machine is one of WWE's longest running "monster heel" characters. Supposedly burned as a child, but later revealed to simply be real ugly (sorry, Glenn!) He loses some points for his flirtations with the good-guyness, as well as the "Katie Vick incident" (you die-hards know what I'm talking about).
4. The Swedish Angel
An oddity of the 1940s, this poor wretch was one of several so-called "Angels", acromegaly victims marketed as monsters by notorious schiester promoter Jack Pfefer. The Swedish one is probably the most famous, due in part to his appearance in the original Mighty Joe Young.
3. Killer Kowalski
One of the most feared and despised brawlers of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, Walter Kowalski once tore off a man's ear in a match--then visited him in the hospital and laughed in his face. True story. I guess he just had a sick sense of humor, because most have told me that the real man behind the legend was actually a total teddy bear.
2. The Undertaker
One of the true triumphs of character creation in the world of wrestling, WCW also-ran Mark Callous was taken by the WWF and turned into a character that has been going strong in the business for the past 19 years. Inspired by the stereotype of the gruesome Old West mortician, Undertaker's character has nevertheless morphed considerably over the years, and is much more "human" these days (hence, no #1).
1. Abdullah the Butcher
The Madman from the Sudan. For nearly half a century, this rampaging lunatic terrorized fans and opponents alike, all over the world--never breaking character once, never being "humanized". His ungodly shrieking was known to send crowds into hysteria, and his trademark maneuver was jabbing a fork into his adversary's face. When Abdullah was in the house, the blood was sure to flow--and for you uninitated out there, when you see that crimson pouring out, it ain't no blood capsule. Trust me.
- Goldust (Ah, exploiting wrestling fans' sexual insecurities. Good times.)
- Kharis the Mummy (yes, he wrestled in bandages)
- Leatherface (a Memphis wrestler of the '80s who adopted the TCM gimmick)
- Mankind (lost points for becoming the adorable Mick Foley later on)
- The Original Sheik (no one ever figured out how he threw those fireballs...)