Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get-go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative…but for various reasons….faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’. This latest piece focuses in on WCW’s Black Scorpion.
In 1990, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was being run by a man named Jim Herd. Jim Herd’s vision of WCW was to bring in the cartoon element in pro wrestling, much like Vince McMahon and the WWF had been doing successfully. The problem for Herd was his main booker at the time was Ole Anderson who was an old school wrestler who believed the product should reflect his thinking. Jim Herd shot down several of Ole’s ideas instead wanting gimmicks like a wrestling lumberjack called ‘Big Josh’ and a tag team that wrestled with bells on called the Ding Dongs.
Feeling frustrated by Jim Herd’s vision of WCW…Ole Anderson started throwing out ideas as jokes to see what would stick. Many were shot down, but there was one that Herd actually liked. Ole Anderson came up with an idea of a mysterious masked wrestler who was from then WCW world champion Sting’s past and would haunt him. It was nothing more than a joke from Ole, knowing Herd would most likely reject it, only Jim Herd liked it and let the storyline get the green light.
The main problem was, Ole wasn’t serious about his idea and now had to go through with it despite not having a clear vision of what the storyline would be and, more importantly, who would be the man under the Black Scorpion mask. Despite the lack of knowledge on the gimmick, Ole put everything he had into it considering this was HIS idea.
Vignettes started airing of a dark, hooded man with a very gravelly voice (altered by a voice scrambler that Ole bought) who started making cryptic comments about Sting. He told the fans watching that he was someone from Sting’s distant past who has come to WCW to make his life a living nightmare. His name was the Black Scorpion. The name derived from a piece of Sting’s identity. As his finisher was the Scorpion death lock and his face paint and tights often had a scorpion on them.
The man behind the hood and the voice in those initial promos was none other than Ole himself. The comments made by the Black Scorpion about being from Sting’s past was a way for many to believe it was none other than Sting’s former tag team partner Jim Hellwig aka the Ultimate Warrior. The big problem was The Warrior was the reigning WWF champion at the time. Realistically, there was no way the Black Scorpion was going to be the Warrior. The thing was, many dirt sheets and reports were that Vince McMahon was unhappy with the Ultimate Warrior’s title run.
Ole heard about how McMahon wasn’t impressed with the Warrior’s championship run and his bad attitude behind the scenes. So it certainly didn’t hurt to at least get fans to believe the Ultimate Warrior could be a possibility. Several wrestlers were being considered for the role including Al Perez who wrestled Sting on house shows and the Clash of Champions as the character. Perez, however, would quit the company during the gimmick’s run.
The other top choice for the gimmick was a wrestler named Dave Sheldon aka The Angel of Death. Sheldon, like Al Perez, was used in spots as the Black Scorpion. He, unlike Perez, did have a history with Sting in the old UWF promotion. He was pegged to get it, but WCW management allegedly turned it down midway with the feeling the payoff wouldn’t work. WCW fans were just not that familiar with him as a wrestler. So back to the drawing board Ole would go.
Ole really put all he had into the storyline, even going as far to hire a professional illusionist to perform all the magical acts Black Scorpion would do. The culmination of the storyline was rushed and cut short due to Ole Anderson suffering a broken arm. The culmination of the storyline would take place at Starrcade ’90. There was still no definitive wrestler chosen to be the character.
Finally, it was decided that Barry Windham would get the nod as the Black Scorpion but according to Ric Flair, he felt that it would hurt Windham’s credibility. Flair believed that Windham already portrayed a fake Sting during Sting’s title defense against Sid Vicious at Halloween Havoc that year. While Flair said it was to protect Windham, others felt Flair was positioning himself for the role.
Sting versus Black Scorpion took place at Starrcade 1990 inside a steel cage with Dick the Bruiser as special guest referee. If the Black Scorpion won, he would win the WCW world title. If Sting won, the Black Scorpion would be forced to unmask. Sting would pin the Scorpion and when he was unmasked, it turned out to Ric Flair. The payoff didn’t meet anyone’s expectations.
Nothing against Ric Flair, but at this point in time, Flair was being pushed down to mid-card status by Jim Herd who was not Flair’s biggest fan. So when he was revealed as the mysterious Black Scorpion, it wasn’t well received. Not long after this match, Flair would defeat Sting for the World title at the Meadowlands in New Jersey during a huge snow storm. It was rumored Flair got the title back as a reward for stepping up and becoming the Black Scorpion character.
Years later, fans still talk about this storyline and some fans loved it while others absolutely hated it. I think it had potential if done correctly, but it seems the entire angle was doomed to fail from the get go.
You can read all previous ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’ pieces here.