In the past, I’ve often written of my affinity for the preliminary jobbers of yesteryear. Guys that looked like they were literally plucked off the street before a TV taping…given wrestling attire and asked to make others look great. Guys that had no wrestling training, pasty white skin with bad hair cuts and little to no definition physique wise. Bill and Randy Mulkey fit that description to a tee.
The difference between the Mulkey brothers and every other jabroni in the business, however, was that the Mulkeys grew a huge following. They became cult like heroes down in the mid-Atlantic region of the country. No gimmicks, snazzy catchphrases or 5 star matches…just an appreciation for their passion and commitment to pro wrestling. It was and is known a Mulkey Mania….a take off of the more widely known Hulkamania…and it does indeed exist to this day.
How did Mulkey Mania begin? It all started with the Mulkeys doing what they did best….losing. They were so good at it, they went on a bizarro “Goldberg-like” losing streak and compiled a ridiculous record of 0 wins and 180 losses. During that streak, in a match against The Midnight Express….Jim Cornette…while doing color commentary sarcastically exclaimed that, “Mulkeymania was running wild!” The rest as they say became history. The Mulkeymania moniker stuck and they became the team fans desperately wanted to see get a victory.
That day would come during a Crockett Cup qualifying match in March of 1987. In what appeared to be another typical squash match against a new…heavily hyped masked tag team called The Gladiators….The Mulkeys shocked the world by defeating the Gladiators by pinfall and qualifying for the Crockett Cup! They had shocked the world…or at least all the fans in attendance. In reality, nobody knew the finish of the match but just a few select people…not even the Mulkeys were aware. Mulkey Mania was indeed running wild on that night.
It wouldn’t last, as The Mulkey brothers lost their opening round match to Todd Champion and Denny Brown. The miniscule winning streak was over. That brings us to Jim Crockett…who has had his fair share of mistakes….the dissolving of the UWF…expanding the promotion too quickly and his lack of capitalizing on the Mulkeys phenomenon.
No doubt about it…the brothers were extremely popular with both fans and the boys in the locker room. So much so, that legitimate arguments broke out with teams like The Rock N Roll Express, The Midnight Express, The Road Warriors etc…as to who would get to wrestle The Mulkeys on any given night. The Road Warriors especially loved the Mulkey Brothers…that they would share some of their winnings from a match with the brothers…Respect indeed.
Close to 30 years later…Bill and Randy Mulkey are still talked about in high regard. A few years ago, Bobby Eaton said of Mulkeymania, “No joke, “Mulkeymania” was a real thing in North Carolina.”
They both made an indelible mark in the business and one can only wonder…what could have been if Jim Crockett gave them a real push? Regardless, I believe it was Bill Apter who expressed it best….”I am only sure of 3 things in life. Death, taxes, and the Mulkeys losing on a weekly basis.