Tag Team TV Series

Do You Remember the TV Show Tag Team?

In the mid – late 80’s, professional wrestling, and the WWF in particular, was big business. A lot of the WWF superstars were becoming household names thanks to Vince McMahon and his traveling circus. Two of the better known superstars were “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Piper had spent years as the biggest bad guy wrestler on the roster, while Ventura was well-known as one of the voices of the shows as color commentator. Each broke out of the WWF world to become moderate successes in Hollywood. Piper had starring roles in B – Movies like Body Slam, Hell Comes to Frogtown, and They Live. Meanwhile, Jesse was becoming a solid back up man in action flicks with Running Man and Predator.  In 1991, they teamed up on the small screen in the pilot episode of Tag Team.

The shows premise was simple. These two wrestlers couldn’t wrestle for a living anymore, so they decide to become cops. That decision was made after they used their wrestling moves to stop a robbery at a grocery store. It was a simple idea, but one that a television series could conceivably be based around.

 

As the air date for the pilot episode drew closer, Vince McMahon was hyping the debut of the show on his wrestling shows, and as a 13-year-old wrestling fan, I was salivating. I marked the date and time on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss it. Here was another chance to inject more wrestling into my world, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Although I can’t recall what night of the week that this premiered on, I DO remember getting everything set up in my room for it. My chair was at the right angle, I had a frosty beverage at my side, and some sort of snack at the ready. I was pumped.

As I remember it, the episode was pretty good, and I thought it was really cool that these two wrestlers were going to be in a television show every week. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of just how exactly television worked at that time, and was quite disappointed when the show never aired again. The series wasn’t picked up, and the show was thrown into the huge pile of “could have been’s” with hundreds of other series that were never picked up.

Tag Team TV Pilot

I listened to a podcast featuring Ventura and Piper a while back just before Piper passed away, and Ventura explained why the series wasn’t picked up. The two companies who were producing the show together, Disney and Corelco, got into a lawsuit with each other over something not even remotely related to the Tag Team series, and while in litigation, the show was left in limbo since neither side was doing business with each other at the time. When the lawsuit dust settled, too much time had passed and the Tag Team series was abandoned.

It’s a real shame, because the two had great chemistry together in the pilot, the premise was solid for an action/comedy show, and would have probably drawn decent enough ratings to keep the 13 – episode first season on the air. Whether it would have been picked up beyond that is anyone’s guess, but I know one 13 year old who would have watched religiously.

Check out the pilot and see what YOU think.

3 Count Bout Marquee

Can you Survive a 3-Count Bout of Wrestling?

Pro-Wrestling is no stranger to the world of video games. Most formats find themselves hosting a number of games that grapple with men in tights. SNK’s Neo Geo settled on just the one human-powered wrestling title, 3 Count Bout (Fire Suplex in Japan). Released in 1993 to arcades and the home, this was a game that really knew how to play the hype game!

The Flames of Battle Dance in the Ring!

Seriously, who doesn’t want to play a game with a tagline as poetic as that found in the advertising? The FLAMES OF BATTLE, in a wrestling game!

3 Count Bout Wrestling

Not all of the hype sounded as good, but it was certainly bullish. Can you survive the Ultimate Battle? Steady now!

10 wrestlers, each equipped with Power Attacks and Malevolent Moves rage in the ring. Biting, kicking and punching their way to the top spot.

Biting?? What’s next? Oh yes, the wrestlers:

Wrestlers who wrestle

More Wrestlers Wrestling

You can’t have a wrestling game without some really cool fighter names. Blubber Man! The Red Dragon!! And Terry Rogers. They can’t all be winners.

Unless you supplement their wrestler names with suitable descriptions. Hot Gentleman, the Human B-52 and the Wild-Maned Maniac all sound like they mean business.

Fire Suplex Wrestling

These ‘warriors of the ring’ can be found only on the Neo Geo as the game was never ported. Take a look at The Red Dragon in action below:

Sadly the SNK Wrestling Federation (SWF) is no longer hosting matches.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

The Dead Wrestlers Society

I can’t profess to be a huge fan of wrestling. I did catch the bug when I was young with British champs ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Giant Haystacks’ and my interest was later ignited with the early days of Hulkmania, but I’m largely immune to the pleasures of the sport. I’m not however immune to the joys of viewing exceptional art, and so when that crosses path with wrestlers of the past, I have to admire it.

dead_wrestlers2

The Dead Wrestlers Society website is presented by London-based art studio I LOVE DUST and contains a dozen posters of those wrestling heroes who are no longer with us. The originals were presented in the Aspex Gallery back in 2011 but the website remains for you to appreciate the amazing art.

dead_wrestlers3

From the website:

Professional Wrestling has given us some of the most colourful and charismatic characters in sports history. Defying all attempts at labelling or categorisation these huge writhing muscular masses of outrageous behaviour clad in ever-changing wardrobes of flamboyant costumes and crazy color-ways.

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If you like what I Love Dust do, I’d recommend you follow them on Tumblr.

WWF Wrestling’s Main Event is at a corner near you!

LJN Wrestling

I’ve never been a big fan of WWF Wrestling, though I knew all the main wrestlers of the era that this 1987 advert is from. The various WWF lines from LJN were pretty cool; the Sling’em Fling’em Wrestling Ring, the Bendies Action Figures (that let you Twist’em, Turn’em and match your favorite holds) and the Thumb Wrestlers so you could Pin’em – just like the real thing. I’m quite surprised that my younger self didn’t want’em and get’em!

The real gem from this advert is the Hulkmania Workout Line which included everything you needed to get in shape including Hulk’s own 40 minute personal excercise fitness program! I would have wanted that as a child – I still do!

Advert from a 1987 magazine found here.

Saturday Frights Presents – Skeletons in the Closet with This Week’s Guest Dollar Dave!

Capture

Welcome back fiends and ghouls! Let me lay something on ya; you cats are luckier than a vampire locked in a blood bank, because this week I’m joined by fellow Team Retroist member diabolical Dollar Dave! If you are unfamiliar with double D’s work here at the Retroist you really owe it to yourself to rectify that situation with the utmost of haste! Dave provides some of the most detailed, in-depth articles on the wacky world of pro-rasslin’s glory days that you could ever hope to read! So, now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s let Dollar Dave whisk us away to a strange land where ghosts and pile drivers combine in the pale light of the midnight moon:

The wrestling business at its core is just media. Some wrestling characters are based in realism, while others are more abstract. One of the things I love about the business is that nothing is off limits. Over the years, there have been cowboys, cross-dressers, rock, movie, and porn stars, superheroes, and of course, horror inspired wrestlers. Tonight on a special Saturday Night Frights, we are going to look at some of the best, and yes, the worst, terrifying (or unintentionally funny) wrestling gimmicks ever.

1The most iconic horror themed character ever is the Undertaker. The “Dead Man” showed up on WWF television in 1990, after a few forgettable years in WCCW and WCW. He was originally billed as Kane the Undertaker, though the name Kane was soon dropped (but saved for a later date). Undertaker was a macabre, sinister undead entity. Over the years, he developed into the “Lord of Darkness”, and later a dark priest of some kind. “The Phenom” summons lightning and fog, and controls the house lights. Nearly impervious to pain, he defeated Hulk Hogan for his first of 7 world championships in 1991. He was so successful in fact, that the company created more characters to expand his world.

2Paul Bearer arrived on the scene in early 1991 when he took over the management of Undertaker from Brother Love. He had already worked in WCCW and the USWA as Percy Pringle III for over a decade when he joined the WWF. An actual mortician, Bill Moody’s white faced and shrill voiced Paul Bearer became an icon for over 2 decades, one of the most famed wrestling managers ever. Holder of the sacred Urn that controlled Undertaker, father of Kane, and manager of Mankind, he was the glue that held Undertaker’s universe together. He passed away in 2013 and was inducted into the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame.

3Glen Jacobs had many bad gimmicks until he was repackaged as Kane (hey look they found a use for that name), and introduced by Paul Bearer in 1997. Allegedly burned as child by Undertaker in a fire that killed their parents, the masked Kane was coming for vengeance. The pair has fought as enemies and tag team partners over the years as Kane’s gimmick evolved. First masked, then unmasked, and back again, the “Devil’s Favorite Demon” is a 3 time world champ. Through “hellfire and brimstone” he comes, now a master of the same fire that burned him. It was later found he was the bastard son of Paul Bearer and Undertaker’s mother, and he once impregnated Lita, but she miscarried his demon seed. Also a horror film star, Kane was a sadistic killer with a hook and chain in “See No Evil”.

4Mankind was introduced in 1996. A sophisticated idea by Mick Foley, he was an improvement over the original “Mason the Mutilator” concept. He rocked to symphonic music, screaming “Mommy!” while playing with rats and pulling out his own hair during promos. While he advanced the character away from its roots quickly, for about 2 years, he was a very fitting piece of Undertaker’s universe.

5The short lived gimmick of The Executioner had a few brief appearances in 1996 alongside Mankind and Paul Bearer. He was in actuality, the former Freebird, Terry Gordy. Wielding a plastic axe, he helped defeat the Undertaker in a Buried Alive match, before being decimated by him at WWF: In Your House 12. Gordy left soon after and retired. He died from a heart attack in 2001.

6WCW’s Dungeon of Doom faction was a stable with a horror and mystic basis. This group was an expansion of Three Faces of Fear, which didn’t work either. Led by the mystical Taskmaster (Kevin Sullivan), there were a mass of followers over its 3 years whose sole purpose was to destroy Hulkamania. Kamala the Ugandan Giant, The Zodiac (Ed Leslie), Meng, Lex Luger, Big Van Vader, and Loch Ness (Martin “Giant Haystacks” Huane) were just a few of its many, many members.

7The Swedish Angel (Phil Olafsson) wrestled in the 1930s and 40s. His character was that of a simple mindless animal or caveman type who was large and imposing. He was often a foil to Maurice Tillet’s French Angel character. Like Tillet and Andre the Giant, he suffered from acromegaly (a growth disorder which causes disfigurement). He was somewhat of an attraction and was the Kansas City Heavyweight Champ in 1943. He also appeared in Mighty Joe Young, but should not be confused with….

8Tor Johnson wrestled as King Kong and The Swedish Super Angel. In wrestling, he was pretty much the same character as Olafsson. He was big, sinister, dark, and mysterious. He appeared in some 30 films, mostly uncredited, until his famed appearances in the Ed Wood films. His face was used by Don Post as a mold of one of the best-selling Halloween masks of all time. His cult film status actually overshadows a pretty solid wrestling career.

9Gangrel (David Heath) became a mid-level star in the WWF in the late 1990’s. Based on a clan from Vampire: The Masquerade; the character would rise through a flaming circle, with ominous music, and a goblet of “blood”. Gangrel drank the “blood” at ringside and spit it into the air. Along with The Brood (Edge and Christian), he would often give opponents a “bloodbath” after the house lights went down. The gimmick lasted about 3 years, before he returned to independent wrestling as the Vampire Warrior. It was a short lived, yet good terror gimmick, and he was also married to Luna Vachon in real life, that’s scary enough.

10Kamala the Ugandan Giant (James Harris) was a character developed in the USWA by Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler. Billed as a Ugandan cannibal, he was adorned with tribal markings which were actually copied from a Frank Frazetta drawing. He was managed by the likes Freddie Blassie, The Wizard, Percy Pringle III, and Kim Chee. Kamala’s career saw him wrestle the likes of Lawler, Hogan, Undertaker, and many others. His career defining moment must have been the time he appeared to have eaten a live chicken on WWF television. The gimmick stayed with him until his retirement in 2011.

11Vampiro (Ian Hodgkinson) was a legend in Mexico before his short run with the WCW in the late 1990’s. Born in Canada, he began wrestling at 16, and while largely self-taught (like CM Punk); he credits Abdullah the Butcher as his trainer. The Vampiro gimmick kind of developed itself. He was put in the ring because he liked vampires, was good looking, and didn’t mind taking bumps. Before long, he was a top star in Mexico; particularly with the women (he was also called Vampiro Casanova). He still packs houses south of the border and in Japan to this day. Fun career note: worked as personal security for Milli Vanilli at one point.

12Wildly misused Chris Klucsarits (Kanyon) became known to WCW fans as Mortis in the mid 90’s. One of a planned stable of wrestlers who were rip offs of Mortal Kombat, he battled Glacier (Sub-Zero) a lot. The gimmick didn’t last long, as Kanyon joined Raven’s Flock, but it was actually well executed.

And now for some guys you may or may not know. Likely if you are aware of them, you will curse me for reminding you.

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Leatherface (Mike “Corporal” Kirchner) wrestles in Japan to this day. Look at the picture, and I think it speaks for itself. The Zombie (Tim Roberts) made one sad appearance on the WWE’s rebuilt ECW show on the Sci-Fi Network in 2006. Waylon Mercy (“Dangerous” Dan Spivey) was a short lived gimmick in the WWE in 1995; he was a blatant rip off of Robert DeNiro’s Max Cady in Cape Fear. The Yeti (Ron Reis) was an ill-conceived Dungeon of Doom member wrapped in bandages (presumably so no one would write about him here), often incorrectly referred to as The Mummy. The Mummy was actually a wrestler in the 1960s named Benji Ramirez. A great story talks about how he rode in costume from hotels to the arena, and one night got out to use the bathroom while the guys he was riding with were on a gas and beer stop. They drove off and left him, and so a crazy bandaged man, with no identification was nearly locked up and shot when townsfolk mistook him for an escaped mental patient. True story. I love wrestling.

Fangs a lot Dave, that was truly awesome! So until next week creeps; Stay Spooky!