Popular culture has always had a somewhat strained relationship with wrestling. With WWE’s frequent attempts to gain ground outside wrestling and the many portrayals of fictitious wrestlers we’ve seen featured in sitcoms, cartoons and movies, wrestling and pop culture don’t see eye to eye, rarely ‘getting’ each other. Wrestlers are often shown on TV as these big, hulking brutes, either hopped up like they’ve had a bowl of cocaine for breakfast or brooding, grunting and looking like any glimmer of personality would gas them. But sometimes, every so often, some show or movie just ‘gets’ it, and we get a fictional wrestler so good it’s a damn shame they aren’t real! This week I’m going to go back and pick the 5 best fictional wrestlers, so put your nostalgia goggles on and get ready to say ‘Oh! I remember that!’
5. The Flea from ‘¡Mucha Lucha!’
¡Mucha Lucha! was a cartoon that ran from 2003 – 2005. The show was about a group of Mexican schoolkids, who also happen to be luchadores because everything in this show revolves around Mexican wrestling. So in a way, its almost like the perfect version of childhood. The show played host to many different characters, the most central being a young tecnico (the lucha equivalent of a face) called Rikochet. No, not that Ricochet. As is often the case with children’s programming, Rikochet was an idealistic good guy and very probably the least interesting character in the show. The Flea, however; was one of Rikochet’s good buddies, along with a third female character called Buena Girl, the Hermione Granger of the group. I would like to think that having three main characters is a nod to the importance of 6 man tags in Lucha Libre. The Flea was unhinged, had a penchant for filth and refused to speak about himself in anything but the third person, much like The Rock. With supreme delusions of grandeur, a fiery temper and a goofy demeanor, The Flea was somewhat reminiscent of Eddie Guerrero. The Flea was mostly the punching boy of the three, with many of the laughs coming from the horrific beatings he suffered.
If he were real: The Flea would no doubt be a solid mid-card face in Chikara; paired either opposite or alongside the ant-based ‘Colony’ stable. I don’t quite know how fleas and ants get on.
4: Captain Insano from ‘The Waterboy’
The Waterboy is a 1998 movie in which Adam Sandler plays a man who may or may not have a mental disability, and has unlikely skill at American football. So, it’s basically like 20 minutes of Forrest Gump. Despite this, its considered widely to be one of Sandler’s better films and is enjoyed by many, including yours truly. Possibly to help portray Sandler’s character Bobby Boucher as an idiot, he is shown to be a fan of a wrestler known as ‘Captain Insano’. Despite his love of Insano, he is laughed at and ridiculed when he asks if he could be the wrestler’s water boy. We’ve seen wrestlers have managers, agents, assistants and cheerleaders, frankly, I think having your own waterboy would be a great gimmick. Anyway, Captain Insano is basically pre-Big Show Paul ‘The Giant’ Wight doing a Hulk Hogan impression – an impression which he would later reprise. We do not get to see Insano in action, however, Bobby demonstrates a few of Captain Insano’s purported moves playing football, including an eye poke and a powerbomb.
If he were real: If Captain Insano were a real wrestler he would probably be a lot like the Giant, but a lot more successful – in the WWF. Standing at 7 feet tall, a powerbomb courtesy of Captain Insano would be an amazing finish. However, with a gimmick so similar to Hogan’s there is no way he would be allowed to portray this character in a Hogan era WCW. Conversely, while The Giant in WCW was actually extremely entertaining before the NWO overshadowed him, his early years… okay a lot of his WWF/WWE tenure, was marred by a seeming lack of personality. If The Big Show had worked a Captain Insano gimmick in the WWF, he probably would have been a great replacement babyface for when Stone Cold Steve Austin took a sabbatical in 1999. However, given the landscape of the WWF at the time, maybe Captain Insano’s colourful attire would do better today, if played ironically or tongue in cheek. At the very least, we can probably create a pretty facsimile of Insano in the WWE 2K games. I can still dream.
3: Mike Haggar from ‘Final Fight’
The video game Final Fight was released by Capcom in 1989 in Arcades and 1992 in the UK as a Super Nintendo exclusive game. It is a beat ‘em up style game where your character walks, beats up enemies and keeps walking until the fight a boss. However; Final Fight kinda broke the mold by just being really really good at this formula. While there were 3 playable characters in the original Final Fight, the only one that really matter is Mike Haggar. In Final Fight, Haggar is a retired professional wrestler turned mayor of Metro City. Interestingly, you can play as Haggar during his wrestling days in the Capcom fighting game Saturday Night Slam Masters. When standing for election, a common promise from candidates is that they’ll take a strong stance on stamping out crime. Haggar takes this stance literally – by literally fighting crime. All while wearing his slacks – so maybe there’s where Corporate Kane got his attire from! Anyway, his daughter has been kidnapped, so Haggar starts turning Metro City into Suplex City.
If he were real: Lets just get this straight first: Mike Haggar is basically Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn. Or Don Frye. Either of them really. He looks exactly like them. On the other hand, another mustachioed wrestler in Jesse Ventura went into politics after wrestling, with equal success becoming the Governor of Minnesota. So in a way, Mike Haggar is real. However, if we were to have a real real Mike Haggar, I think we would be looking at an NWA champion in the mid-80’s, before he takes a payday to do a cup of coffee in the WWF just before the ‘New Generation’. Shawn Michael would request to not put him over, and Haggar would leave the Fed before falling further down the card. He would have a few money matches in Japan before coming back to America to start a highly successful run in politics. Back in reality though, we need Brock Lesnar to stand for election. I feel like that is our only real chance of making this happen.
2. Strong Bad from ‘Homestar Runner’
The character of Strong Bad is as interesting to trace as Strong Bad is awesome in general. Way, way back in 1983 a game called Tag Team Wrestling was released into arcades. Years later the game was ported to the Japanese Famicom, which was released in the west as the Nintendo Entertainment System, or the NES. It was around this time that two brothers, Mike and Matt Chapman would see a team in the game – the ‘Strong Bads’ and the germ of an idea would start to form in their minds. Flash forward to the dot com era and the two would start a highly successful flash animated cartoon website starring a cast of colourful characters named after the presumed star of the show ‘Homestar Runner’. However, the true star would soon come to fore as the sass mouthed anti-hero Strong Bad – a boxing glove wearing masked luchadore with a gruff hispanic accent. Strong Bad, a professional wrestler who we rarely see actually wrestling typically answers fans emails and berates the fans. For many years Strong Bad was one of the most popular characters on the pre-meme internet, with the Brothers Chaps turning down offers to turn Homestar Runner into a TV cartoon, before eventually basically sending off the series with a very fun point and click adventure game on the Wii and PC. Like a retired wrestler, though, Strong Bad still makes appearances every now and then. And the internet goes crazy.
If he were real: Strong Bad would probably be like a cross between CM Punk and Stone Cold Steve Austin, with very little ability. I’d like to think he’d come part and parcel with his brute, hulking big Brother Strong Mad to be his muscle. So you would have Strong Bad on the stick and String Mad backing him up – they’d basically be Heyman and Lesnar, except they’d both wrestle. I can imagine the pairing doing very vell on the indies, probably in Chikara or maybe Lucha Underground. In fact, definitely in Lucha Underground. Strong Bad – Lucha Underground Champion. That’s what would happen.
1: Bone Saw McGraw from ‘Spider-Man’
“Bone Saw is Reeeeadddd-eeeeeeee”. Those words created possibly the greatest ever cameo in the history of cinema. I love that quote so much, I’m going to make it my ring tone. The original Sam Raimi Spider-Man film was released in 2002. In an effort to raise money to buy a cool car to impress girl-next-door Mary-Jane Watson, Toby Maguire Spider-Man enters a wrestling tournament where the objective is to last 3 minutes in a steel cage match for a big payout. Oddly enough, the match is presented as being entirely shoot – so either it was some form of MMA/Wrestling hybrid ala Pancrase, or Sam Raimi was protecting the business! It is in this match that the announcer (played by Bruce Campbell in the second best cameo in the history of cinema) gives the character the name ’The Amazing Spider-Man’. Played by Randy Savage, Bone Saw McGraw has an imposing physique, he’s shown to be a ferocious competitor and he has all the charisma of the the Macho Man. In fact, you could basically just say that Bone Saw is Macho Man. In an interesting fact this part of the film was lifted from the Spider-Man comic, however, the wrestler was called ‘Crusher Hogan’ in the comic. You may be forgiven for thinking that his name was just a take off of Hulk Hogan, but you may be surprised to know that Crusher Hogan made his first appearance in 1962!
If he were real: Bone Saw McGraw would be remembered as the greatest wrestler who ever lived. He would have travelled the world raking up belts and titles. He’d be a special attraction wrestler, performing only squashes against the promotions top heels and babyfaces alike. He’d have slammed Hulk Hogan whilst Hogan was slamming Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3. He’d beat Antonio Inoki in a shoot in less than 3 minutes, thereby denying Inoki of that fabled $3000. If Shinsuke Nakamura is the King of Strong Style, then Bone Saw would be the Emperor. He’d take Brock Lesnar to the limit – all three minutes. He could have finished Brock in the first minute, but he didn’t – why? Because he’d have Lesnar for three minutes of PLAY-TIME. Bone Saw would be the greatest wrestler who ever lived. Because Bone Saw is ready.
Who are your favourite fictional wrestlers, and why are they Bone Saw McGraw?
When not pushing his Bone Saw McGraw/Captain Insano Create-A-Wrestler tag team to the top of WWE Universe Mode, Coiré Mc Crystall tweets.