Well That Didn’t Work: Outback Jack


Craig Wilson

WWE’s history is littered with attempts by the promotion to cash-in on successful pop culture to try and create a superstar. One such superstar, Outback Jack, is the focus of this latest ‘Well That Didn’t Work‘ piece.

For those that can’t remember, or chose to forget, on the back of the success of Crocodile Dundee, the WWE in its infinite wisdom decided that what the promotion lacked was a character with an Australian background.

With it being the 80s, it was character and gimmick overload. Some superstars; such as Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Koko B. Ware and the British Bulldogs; were given animals to aid their character whilst others were merely given outlandish gimmicks.

The Victoria, Australia born Peter Stilsbury was in the latter camp.

You see, with Crocodile Dundee – a film about an Australian bushman struggling to understand life in America – riding so high in the film charts, it was the second highest grossing film worldwide in 1986, what would wrestling fans want more than a superstar heavily based on the lead character in the film and what could possibly go wrong?

So Outback Jack was born.

Vignettes aired for months ahead of his debut. The videos focussed on him in the wilds in Australia doing such traditional wrestling pursuits as driving a jeep and drinking beer with cows.

With such a strong build-up, Outback Jack was sure to be a success. However, there was a glitch.

After months of hyping him with lengthy videos on the relatively limited amount of TV time the company had available to them in 1986, they had overlooked something. Nobody had bothered to check if Stilsbury could actually wrestle. And he couldn’t. He really couldn’t.

Early wins over seasoned jobbers like Jose Estrada, Barry Horowitz and “Iron” Mike Sharpe gave him the traditional start to a career after he debuted in November 1986.

However, by the second quarter of 1987, Jack was himself a jobber and getting the losers purse in matches against Rick Rude and Ted Dibiase. One of his most memorable matches came in a 6-man tag, alongside future Attitude Star Steve Blackman and Brady Boone – who would become Battle Kat – against the Islanders, the only time the pair of Haku and Tama were joined by a third islander Sivi Afi.

After losing to Greg Valentine in May 1988, Outback Jack was gone for good from the WWF and after leaving had very little to do with wrestling. Sadly, in recent interviews he has stated that he is 100% blind. He will be remembered as the first Australian to wrestling for the WWF. Allegedly at one point he and Hillbilly Jim were set for a tag title reign but nothing came of that.

Ultimately, Outback Jack was one of many attempts by the WWE to cash-in on pop culture with a wrestling crossover character. In the end, his in-ring work was limited to say the least and the fans had very little in the character so it was little wonder that he found himself quickly drifting down the card.

You can read all previous ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ pieces here.

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