Back From The Dead Part II: Wrestlers No-Selling Death

Back from the Dead

Jamie Lithgow

A while ago I cast my eye over The Undertaker’s uncanny ability to rise from the dead. Upon researching The Dead Man’s alive/dead record I came to realise that he is far from alone in benefiting from this unusual talent. So, (super)naturally, today I have turned my focus towards some other wrestling personalities who were able to defy the longest odds imaginable and come Back From The Dead…

The Giant
What’s the last thing you would want to happen just minutes before your professional wrestling debut? Pull a muscle in your warm up? Realise you’ve forgotten your ring gear? A last minute booking change? Well, spare a thought for The Giant aka WWE’s Big Show. Prior to his first ever televised wrestling match at Halloween Havoc 1995 – where he would challenge Hulk Hogan for the WCW Title – The Giant fell from the roof of The Joe Louis Arena, to his presumed death.

You see, prior to his wrestling match with Hogan the pair had a ‘Sumo Monster Truck Match’ on the roof the arena – yes, this really happened. Road rage obviously took over as the pair exited their trucks and got into a brawl, with The Giant losing his balance near the edge and taking a header off the roof. Thankfully the big man was able to recover from his 85ft fall and make it to the main event without so much as a scratch on his ample frame.

The ridiculousness did not stop their either. The Giant – making his debut remember – defeated Hogan for the WCW Title, with a little help from Kevin Sullivan, Jimmy Hart, Lex Luger and the infamous WCW Yeti. In keeping with other large men who had defeated Hogan for a world title, the result of this match was rendered null and void when The Giant was stripped of the title due to the extremely screwy finish to the match.

Paul Bearer
Sadly, like others who have returned from a wrestling death, the man behind this gimmick is no longer with us. Before the untimely passing of William Moody in 2013, the Paul Bearer character met his apparent demise at the hands of a cement truck.

At The Great American Bash 2004 The Undertaker fought, and defeated, the Paul Heyman led Dudley Boyz in a 2 on 1 handicap match. During the match Paul Bearer was encased in a Perspex box. Heyman had threatened that if Taker did not lay down and voluntarily lose to The Dudleys he would fill the Perspex “crypt” with cement. With the Deadman putting up more resistance than desired, Heyman periodically filled the box with cement to a level just over Bearer’s shoulders. Claiming the victory after a Tombstone on D-Von, The Undertaker prevented Heyman from completely submerging Bearer by summoning a bolt of lightning, thus scaring the crap out of the cowardly heel manager. Then, in a bizarre twist, The Undertaker pulled the lever to release the cement into the box. That’s right; the end of this PPV featured a wrestler murdering his own manager.

With complaints flooding in, it was announced on the following Smackdown! That Bearer had somehow survived, but was badly injured.

As an aside, those who attended the show would have seen the stunt man – as if Bearer would have performed that stunt himself – clamber out of the Perspex box after the PPV went off the air. Thus, it was only the TV audience left thinking they had witnessed The Undertaker kill Paul Bearer.

Undertaker Bossman WM15The Big Bossman
Back in the day, if someone was to be executed then a sure fire way to get the job done was a public hanging. Taking this knowledge – or common sense rather – into account, it is hard to explain why WWE scripted the hanging of The Big Bossman at Wrestlemania XV if they had no intention of writing the character off TV? Mr McMahon’s ‘Head of Security’ was back on TV a little over a week later, looking no worse for wear and not anymore pissed at The Undertaker and The Brood than he was before they dangled him from the roof of a cage.

Technically speaking we have not seen the Kane character die on TV only to return at a later date… yet. When you think about it, this is possibly a little surprising given the number of times his brother has performed such a trick. Kane’s speciality appears to be disappearing for a while and returning with or without his mask, depending on how he was dressed previously. So, why have I mentioned him here? Well, according to his lengthy backstory, he was considered dead for 20 years. As far as The Undertaker was aware, his brother died in the fire which claimed the lives of his parents. Apparently this was not the case and Paul Bearer had raised Kane, horrific burns and all. Thus, when The Big Red Machine made his long awaited debut at In Your House 18: Badd Blood in October 1997, he was treated as a monster that had risen from the dead.

Since his debut/return from the grave, Kane’s backstory has been fleshed out – and contradicted – considerably. Having been accused of murder and arson by The Undertaker, he was revealed to be innocent of such crimes when The Undertaker confessed to starting the fire which killed their parents in late 1998. Turns out Kane is only Taker’s half-brother, Paul Bearer is The Big Red Machine’s father. Kane did not sustain burns in the infamous fire after all; he’s just a crazy and a pyromaniac. He was also not raised in isolation as first claimed either, as the whole Katie Vick saga demonstrated. One thing does seem certain though, like The Undertaker, Kane seems to have supernatural powers and as such we should not be surprised if he too is able to no-sell the effects of death at some point in the future.

abdullah-chamberAbdullah The Butcher
How could a match featuring Sting, The Steiner Brothers, Mick Foley, Vader and Scott Hall be considered one of the dumbest of all time?! Welcome to early 90’s WCW!

So, what is a ‘Chamber of Horrors’ match? Well, you take Sting, The Steiner Brothers and El Gigante and book them against Vader, Cactus Jack, Abdullah The Butcher and The Diamond Studd; Make it a cage match; Make that cage really tall and fill it with cheap Halloween props; Put an electric chair in the middle of the ring; And, of course, have the referee wear a bike helmet with a camera taped to it, and refer to such apparatus as “Refer-eye”. With all this in place, the object of described match is to use the electric chair to electrocute any member of the opposing team to claim the victory.

The good guys claimed the win when Rick Steiner manoeuvred himself out, and Abdullah The Butcher in, to the dreaded chair. An already in position Cactus Jack had to pretend not to see this exchange for an embarrassingly long period of time, before flipping the switch – which was already in the ‘on’ position – and accidentally frying his mate. Pyrotechnics and flashing lights left us in no doubt regarding Abdullah’s fate. Death by electrocution was shit hard luck on poor Abdullah, considering he wasn’t even originally booked in the match – he was a sub for The One Man Gang. Thus, it was a bit of a surprise to see the big lad return shortly afterwards, to feud with the man – Cactus Jack– who accidentally electrocuted him.


2 thoughts on “Back From The Dead Part II: Wrestlers No-Selling Death

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2015 week 28 | Ring the Damn Bell

  2. Pingback: Back From The Dead Part III: Wrestlers No-Selling Death, Again | Ring the Damn Bell

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