Like most things in life, all good wrestling characters and gimmicks evolve over time. Often the gradual tweaks made to a gimmick during it’s lifespan involve the occasional costume change. Some of these costume changes are good and some are bad, but today Jamie casts his eye over some the less memorable fashion choices from some of wrestling’s biggest names…
Kane The Super Villain
The character of Kane has seen a lot of iterations and costume changes. We’ve had gas mask Kane, Uncle Fester Kane, corporate Kane and everything in-between. Everyone has their favourite version of The Big Red Machine but what you may not know is that the evil villain with supernatural powers that debuted in October 1997 once sported a staple of every good super villain’s wardrobe; a cape. If you attended a WWF house show in October or November of that year then there is chance you may have seen The Big Red Monster’s big red cape. While he does appear to suit the cape, the creative forces within the WWF quite rightly opted to go down the Jason Voorhees/Michael Myres evil villain route rather than the comic book super villain route. Below is a screen grab from an episode of ‘Outside The Ring’ where Mick Foley is granted access to WWE’s warehouse. Don’t you think the concept art for Kane, which is sans mask, looks a lot like his brother; The Undertaker? Also below is the card for a rare ‘Bend-Ems’ figure, on which Kane shows off his fancy red cape.
Demolition, in masks? We of course know that Demolition sported face paint and would usually wear studded, gimp style masks during their entrance. However, towards the end of 1990 the trio experimented with more traditional looking wrestling masks to wear during matches. With Ax essentially acting as Smash and Crush’s manager by this point, the idea was that the masks would allow the team (who were heels) to switch places during matches i.e. ‘twin magic’. It didn’t work because even with masks on, Smash and Ax were still clearly identifiable, with Crush – the largest of the three – even more so. After the team ditched the hoods, Ax left the WWF, Smash and Crush were jobbed out at Wrestlemania VII and the team disbanded shortly afterwards. Jeez, maybe should have kept the masks on, eh guys!?
The New (and improved?) Repo Man
On the subject of Demolition; Smash – aka Barry Darsow – sported another iconic look as Repo Man. Anyone who remembers the WWF in the early 90s will remember Repo Man’s tyre tread ring gear and Lone Ranger style mask. What most people don’t remember, however, is the new ring gear and mask he debuted right at the end of his run with the WWF in 1993. Still sporting a tyre tread design, albeit slightly lighter, Repo was given a new mask. Discussing his new look in the May ’93 issue of WWF Magazine, Repo said “People who mess with me are going to feel as if they’ve been hit with a tyre iron”. Strong words, but fear not, he had been released from his contract by the time the magazine hit the shops, so no harm came to his foes. Incidentally, Darsow has since claimed that the Repo Man character was in-line for a run as a babyface. Could this explain the character’s re-design?
Road Warrior Crush
Sticking with the Demolition theme for one more minute; remember when brightly coloured Kona Crush turned heel and transformed into evil Japanese Crush? Well we got a sneak preview of what he would look like a solid year before his heel turn in October 1993. After Road Warrior Hawk left the WWF following Summerslam 1992, Road Warrior Animal stuck around to fulfil the duo’s contractual obligations. Of course part of this would require a tag team partner; enter Crush. The low level babyface was teamed with Animal for the remainder of the European tour and for a handful of six man tags (with Paul Ellering) when they returned to the states. The team never made it onto TV and was disbanded when Animal suffered a serious back injury. Sadly, unlike Ahmed Johnson at Wrestlemania XIII or Droz in 1998, Crush did not dawn the shoulder pads. On the subject of The Road Warriors’ fashion choices, check out the photo below of Hawk and Animal modelling for ‘Zubaz’.
Sting’s In-between Phase
It’s widely understood that the inspiration for Sting’s Crow gimmick came from Scott Hall, who was a fan of the movie and suggested the look to The Stinger. Maybe he should have explained it better, because Sting’s first appearance with the look on the October 21st 1996 episode of Nitro was very much a work in progress. After several weeks away from WCW television, The Stinger returned sporting a combination of his traditional look and The Crow. This look would prove to be somewhat of a missing link because he had transitioned into full face paint next time we saw him.
Remember when Hulk Hogan dressed like a member of Limp Bizkit? Yes, this happened. Following the infamous ‘finger poke of doom’ angle on the January 4th 1999 episode of Nitro, the New World Order was reunited as one solid unit again. Well, sort of. The Wolfpac and Hollywood names persisted as a means of indicating rank within the group. The red and black NWO Wolfpac were also called the NWO ‘Elite’, due to it comprising of the main members. The black and white NWO Hollywood were the shit guys, like Vincent and Horace. Anyway, because Hogan had essentially joined the cool branch of the New World Order, he must have figured that he best dress appropriately. Thankfully this did not last too long, but for a while Hogan could be found in baggy jeans, plaid shirts, snowboarding hats and various other late 90s teenage fashion staples. He was essentially dressed as Poochie The Dog, which I guess would make The Outsiders Itchy and Scratchy…
Spaceman Max And His Spaceman Suit
To finish up, I have to mention Max Moon. Some things you may already be aware of are that the character was originally portrayed by Charles ‘Konnan’ Ashenoff but he was replaced by Tom ‘Paul Diamond/Kato from The Orient Express’ Boric after just a couple of televised matches. You may also remember the character’s jet pack. What you won’t remember, however, is Max Moon’s spacesuit. Designed for Konnan, the $13,000 Transformer costume never even made it onto television. Now there’s an expensive waste of time.