In this latest post Jamie concludes his Back From The Dead trilogy by looking at even more characters from the world of sports entertainment who have somehow managed to keep living, and wrestling, despite their apparent death.
Remember when Mr. McMahon blew up? After feeling down in the dumps after losing his ECW Title to Bobby Lashley – oh yeah, Vince is a former ECW Champion – the June 11th 2007 episode of Raw was dubbed “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night” in a bid to raise the boss’ spirits. WWE were also holding one of their annual ‘drafts’ on this episode, so no shortage of roster and creative changes. Long story short, after another miserable night, Mr. McMahon headed to his limousine only for it to explode once he had sat down and closed the door.
This segment closed the show and minutes later McMahon’s death was being reported on WWE.com. Some numpties in the mainstream media even reported the angle as fact, apparently forgetting that WWE storylines are fictional and their website primarily concentrates on these angles. Having said that, some criticism was justified as tributes were paid to Mr. McMahon on Smackdown, in a manner similar to those paid following genuine wrestler deaths.
As most know, this angle barely lasted a week. The following Monday Vince McMahon – not his character, ‘Mr. McMahon’ – introduced Raw from an empty arena. Alive and well, he confessed that last week’s show closing segment was a work of pure fiction. The decision to scrap the angle was due to the very real and very tragic deaths of Nancy, Daniel and Chris Benoit. A Chris Benoit tribute show replaced Raw that night. After more details regarding the deaths were revealed, the following night’s ECW on Sci Fi was also preceded by a live announcement from Vince. However, this time, he announced that there would be no mention of Chris Benoit and that the show would be “dedicated to everyone affected by this terrible incident”.
Rather than lazy or inconsistent booking, this instance of a performer returning from the dead was perfectly justified. Some weeks later it was mentioned that the explosion was part of an elaborate scheme where Mr. McMahon would try to fake his own death, only to return at a later date. Rumour has it, the upshot of this scheme would have seen an accomplice pushed as a major heel. Ultimately this abandoned storyline was reincarnated as the ‘Mr. McMahon’s illegitimate son’ angle. It turned about to be Hornswoggle, which is another thing WWE no longer make mention of…
Sting was considered WCW’s answer to The Undertaker for many reasons, one of which being the ridiculous nonsense that plagued the character in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Like The Undertaker, Sting was apparently able to withstand circumstances that would kill mere mortals.
At the 2000 Great American Bash Sting faced his one-time friend turned bitter rival; Vampiro. This wasn’t just any match though. The face painted weirdos faced-off in a Human Torch Match. Essentially this was an Inferno Match, only the bottom rope was not set alight. Same basic rules though; first wrestler to be set on fire loses.
As was prone to happen during this era, the action spilled out of the ring and up the Titan/Turner Tron. I should point out that Vampiro had dowsed Sting in petrol earlier in the match. When the men reached the top of the Turner-tron – which must have been 40-50 feet high – the lights started to flash in a spooky fashion akin to both men’s gimmicks. Before long Vampiro had grabbed the torch and set Sting’s entire body on fire. Staring death in face, The Stinger jumped off the Turner-tron and crashed through the stage floor.
Things I picked up on during this angle were; the awkward and obvious lighting effects which were used to conceal Sting’s substitution for a stunt double; Scott Hudson and Tony Schiavone selling that Sting had just taken his own life; and the remarkably slow deployment of fire extinguishers, baring in mind that the stunt guy really was on fire.
At best Sting should have been badly burned and crippled, and at worst he should have died. Did he suffer either fate? Of course not. He was back a couple of weeks later to continue his feud with Vampiro, The Demon and The Great Muta. In fairness, Sting did return under a mask and goggles so that no part of his body was on show, thus selling the horrific burns he would have received. This get-up would be gone within two weeks though, and Sting would be back to normal in time for WCW’s next PPV.
You know when people say the best wrestling characters are just amplified versions of the performers themselves? Well, that isn’t always a recipe for success. In 1998 WCW weren’t alone in writing a performer’s very real vices into a wrestling storyline.
Like Scott Hall, Michael ‘Road Warrior Hawk’ Hegstrand had his demons. However, rather than keep his issues with drugs and alcohol out of the public eye, WWE wrote them into an angle where Hawk would show up for his matches in no condition to perform. Also around this time, Droz – aka Puke, and whatever else they called him around this time – was added to the Road Warrior mix. So the Road Warriors in 1998 were a trio, which was handy because Hawk was usually plastered and unable to perform in a tag team match.
Increasingly Animal chose to tag with Droz, which pushed Hawk closer to the edge. So much so that on the November 16th episode of Raw, Hawk climbed the TitanTron with the intention of jumping off. Animal, Paul Ellering and Droz tried to talk him down, with the latter climbing the Tron to get nearer to Hawk. Upon trying to talk him down it appeared as if Droz pushed Hawk… or did he jump? Either way, some special effects kicked in and we saw Hawk’s silhouette fall down the back of the screen to the floor.
Did Hawk die? Of course not. After a few weeks off he returned to imply that Droz was his ‘pusher’, in more ways than one. Most people remember Droz as a guy with loads of piercings and some weird tattoos. Well, apparently he was a drug dealer and potential murderer too.
This was the last angle of note for the Road Warriors in WWE. Animal split from Droz at the dreadful UK only PPV, Capital Carnage, in December. Although – confusingly – they did team together on a couple episodes of Shotgun Saturday Night later that month. Hawk returned to action in time for Wrestlemania 15, however he and Animal were eliminated from a Battle Royal on the pre-show episode of Sunday Night Heat and thus did not earn a spot on the main card. The Road Warriors wrestled Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart the following night on Raw, before leaving WWE.
Michael ‘Hawk’ Hegstrand died on October 19th 2003 after suffering a heart attack. He was 46 years old.
Remember when Rikishi ran over Steve Austin for The Rock, but also somehow for Triple H too? Let me clear that statement up a little, because WWE sure as shit didn’t…
At the 1999 Survivor Series, Stone Cold Steve Austin was hit by a car in the parking lot prior to his advertised Triple Threat WWE Championship match with Champion Triple H and The Rock. The ‘injuries’ suffered by Austin would keep him out of action for over 10 months. In reality, WWE had known Austin needed neck surgery well in advance of the event, but only decided to write him out of the match after fans had parted with their money and began watching the PPV.
Upon Austin’s return in September 2000 it was revealed that thong wearing mid-card babyface; Rikishi, was the man behind the wheel at the Survivor Series. The ‘Bad Man’ said that he “did it for The Rock”, as he and Rocky shared the same family tree – albeit a very large one. After Austin had sufficiently dealt with Rikishi, it was revealed that it was actually Triple H’s fault as he had paid Rikishi to take out Austin. Inevitably this led to Austin vs. Triple H in a No-DQ match at the 2000 Survivor Series.
After the usual Attitude Era main event brawling, the action spilled outside where Triple H tried to run over Austin again. Wise to his scheme, Stone Cold had commandeered a massive fork lift, as only Austin can do. The Texas Rattlesnake then lifted the car – with Triple H inside – a legitimate 40 feet in the air, before letting it drop roof first to the ground.
Such a drop would have killed most people, and seriously injured the rest. Not Triple H though. Rather than die, a perfectly healthy Triple H returned eight days later and continued his feud with Austin for another three months.
Previous Back From The Dead posts can be found here: