Icons of Wrestling #35 – The Shockmaster

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Jamie Lithgow

Height: 6’3″
Weight: Over 400lbs
Hometown: The wall cavity in Ric Flair’s ‘Flair For The Gold’ set
Glory Days: 1993-94
Fun Fact: Years prior to the Nirvana and Pearl Jam rip-offs frequently used for wrestler’s entrances in WCW, The Shockmaster’s theme was a poorly executed cover of Day Tripper by The Beatles (get it?!) leading into the chorus of Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones, for some reason.

Bio:

The Shockmaster was the man brought into WCW by Sting to “shock the world”. Well, he was shocking, we’ll give him that. Heading into Fall Brawl 1993 and the War Games main event was almost set. It would be Sid Vicious, Vader and Harlem Heat – then known as Kane and Kole instead of Stevie Ray and Booker T – taking on Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Davey Boy Smith and a mystery partner inside the double cage. Said mystery partner was revealed on the live broadcast of Clash of The Champions XXIV on August 18th 1993 during Ric Flair’s ‘Flair For The Gold’ segment. Confronted by the baddies, Sting and Davey Boy introduced them, and the world, to The Shockmaster! By now I assume you all know the story of The Shockmaster’s debut but if not just watch this video and laugh yourself silly.

If you are able to find the original live footage of The Shockmaster’s debut – WWE have edited the version above – then you will hear some fantastic quotes from the other wrestlers. “He fell on his fucking arse!” exclaimed Davey Boy and “who is this motherfucker?!” asked Booker T. You may also notice a delay in Shockmaster’s voice over, that’s because Ole Anderson – the voice of The Shockmaster – was pissing himself laughing. Probably the best reaction, however, cannot be found on any video footage. A young Cody Rhodes was watching the show with his friends at home and after seeing a large man scramble on the floor to catch a glittery Stormtrooper mask he turned to everyone and said “I think that was Uncle Fred”. He wasn’t wrong.

One of the biggest fuck ups in wrestling history was made possible by an ill-fitting Stormtrooper mask and a mysterious plank of wood. Having walked through The Shockmaster’s debut earlier in the day, everything seemed to be set. However, between this point and the live broadcast an additional plank of wood made its way to the foot of the wall The Shockmaster was supposed to smash through. As a result of this extra reinforcement, during the live segment only the top half of the wall caved-in and an almost blind Shockmaster tripped over the plank that he did not know was there. Almost blind? Yes, the glitter that covered the mask was flaking off into our man’s eyes making it hard for him to see through the already tiny eye holes. Believe it or not, sabotage – rather than a guy not being able to see – is a muted reason for this infamous botch. As mentioned, the rehearsal earlier in the day went perfectly, but an extra plank of wood appears and the dude falls on his face on live TV, hmmmm. Some – i.e. the late great Dusty Rhodes – say that the plank was ‘planted’. Famously, The Shockmaster was one of Dusty’s creations – as well as being his brother in law. The conspiracy theory being that if Dusty, who was head of the booking committee at the time, looked bad it would help pave the way for Eric Bischoff to take the reigns as Executive Producer and thus hold the power within WCW. Personally I prefer the theory that the dude just couldn’t see where he was going and tripped over…

Safety first. The new and improved Shockmaster sporting his shiny new helmet

So funny is the Shockmaster’s debut that few people consider ‘what if’. What if he didn’t trip and fall? What if the angle played out as planned? Well for starters our man was in for a makeover, regardless of how his big debut went. The infamous Stormtrooper mask is somewhat inexplicable, just that he needed to wear a mask to hide the fact that he was Typhoon/Tugboat from the WWF. As for the big, silly coat, well that belonged to one of the Colossal Kongs. The weird thing is, The Shockmaster already had an outfit made and ready for action. In fact, he had already worn in it at TV tapings to be broadcast after his live debut. So just why he debuted in borrowed clothes and part of a Star Wars costume is one of the many mysteries of WCW. The original plan for The Shockmaster was to be a sort of comic book hero, which explains his original intended outfit. It was a blue singlet, tights and mask with yellow trim and lightning bolts. You know, lightning, electricity, shock, The Shockmaster. Hey, it makes more sense than a glittery mask and a fat guy’s coat.

Of course, this is not the version of The Shockmaster we got. Determined to salvage something from the angle, by the time Fall Brawl rolled around a month later, The Shockmaster had evolved from shirtless Star Wars villain into a loveable klutz who just wanted to make kids happy. With this change in direction also came a change of wardrobe. Gone was the Stormtrooper mask and in was a hard hat, presumably as protection should he trip and fall again. Going forward, The Shockmaster was essentially just a clumbsy construction worker. In fact, Fred Ottman was pretty much just portraying his Big Steel Man gimmick that he had used in Florida a few years previous. Oh, I mentioned Fall Brawl because WCW did not change course here. One would have understood if they decided to book someone else into the War Games match after such a colossal fuck up, but no. Moreover, The Shockmaster actually scored the win for his team by making Kole (Booker T) submit.

Yes, these are available over at prowrestlingtees.com

From here The Shockmaster slid down the card, although he did wrestle (and win) at Halloween Havoc, Battle Bowl and Starrcade. By the start of ‘94 the gimmick started to evolve again. The Shockmaster started to tease that a friend of his was on his way to WCW. The following week The Super Shockmaster debuted using The Shockmaster’s theme music and wearing a blue mask and singlet i.e. The Shockmaster’s original intended outfit. After defeating Mike Thor on an episode of Main Event, The Super Shockmaster told Tony Schiavone that he and The Shockmaster were different people and actually referred to the original Shockmaster as ‘Uncle Fred’; a reference to what Fred Ottman is known as in the Rhodes household – he’s Cody and Dustin’s uncle. This promo ended with Super Shockmaster challenging Vader. This was the last time we saw The Super Shockmaster with the newly christened Uncle Fred also disappearing from our screens shortly afterwards too.


All previous ‘Icons of Wrestling’ can be read here.


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2 thoughts on “Icons of Wrestling #35 – The Shockmaster

  1. Goddamn, that never gets old, ha ha. That delay tho. Fuck, that had to be one of the very rare few times Ol’ Ole allowed himself to laugh. Hearing him snicker like Scooby Doo is funny in and of itself.
    Oh man poor Cody Rhodes “I think….I think that’s my Uncle Fred.” And on that day Kayfabe officially died (if it hadn’t already) in the Rhodes home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Shockmaster never got old. Every time I watch it. I still laugh my ass off. I saw it live on TV and it was so funny. Oh, and Sid knew it was going to bomb and once he tripped, you can hear him say “told ya”. I’m surprised how he, Booker and Stevie Ray kept their composure together.

    It’s so appropriate to cover the Shockmaster as the new generation of wrestling fans will understand what we old farts had. I will lose my shit if I see Titus trip again but wear that stormtrooper helmet.

    Like

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