Well That Didn’t Work: Ludvig Borga

Craig Wilson

Back in 1993, the WWF thought that an appropriate gimmick for a foreign heel would be to raise environmental concerns about America. Yup, you read that right. In today’s ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ we look back at that WWF run of Ludvig Borga.

By 1993, the WWF had changed quite dramatically from its eighties peak pomp. Very few of the stars who took the WWF global in the middle of that decade were still with the company – although Hulk Hogan had been with the promotion in the early part of 1993 the least said about that the better, really.

But while the landscape had changed – in many ways the mindset of Vince McMahon had not. He still longed for an all-American hero and tried valiantly with Lex Luger, and the Lex Express, to create that. Furthermore, he still loved a foreign heel and from King of the Ring through to WrestleMania X, the WWF title was around the considerable waist of Yokozuna, a 500+ pound sumo wrestler – although, in reality, not Japanese but a member of the legendary Anoaʻi family.

Perhaps with a knowledge of countries with apathy towards Americans that few others have, Vince McMahon turned to Finland to find his next anti-American heel. The man he found was Tony Christian Halme. Billed as Ludvig Borga, he began appearing on WWF screens in the middle of the year castigating America for its environmental and education policies.

He received a fairly traditional initial run by WWF standards as he set about destroying every enhancement talent placed in his way. He made his PPV debut at that year’s SummerSlam, defeating former Intercontinental champion Marty Jannetty. Post-event, he had a confrontation with Lex Luger following his win over Yokozuna. The seeds were set.

His biggest win came on an episode of WWF Superstars later in the year when he ended the two-year undefeated streak of Tatanka after dominating him throughout the match but needing a steel chair to defeat him with Mr. Fuji distracting the referee.

At the 1993 Survivor Series, he was part of the “Foreign Fanatics” team – alongside Yokozuna, Crush and Quebecer Jacques – against the “All-Americans” of Lex Luger, The Steiner Brothers and The Undertaker. It was he and Luger who were the final two competitors before Luger won with a running forearm.

Whatever plans the WWF had for Borga in 1994 were curtailed when he injured his ankle in a bout with Rick Steiner – putting the kibosh on his appearance in January’s Royal Rumble as well as a scheduled match with Earthquake at WrestleMania X. Soon after, he left the company.

After that, he had spells in Catch Wrestling Association and the Ultimate Fighting Championship before a spell as a member of parliament in his native Finland. In January 2010, shortly after his 47th birthday, Halme died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot.

Looking back at his WWF run, despite a main event appearance at Survivor Series, it was certainly unremarkable and almost forgettable. Watching his matches, as I am through my Raw Rewind series, its difficult to find them anything other than slow and plodding. The fans cared barely a jot about him and any heat he did have was surely go-away heat rather than anything else.

Furthermore, the early 90s audience was moving away from the old school America vs foreigner gimmicks that had shot the WWF into the front rooms of millions of fans. That was clear in the relative lack of interest in Lex Luger – certainly when compared to Hulk Hogan – and is again evident when it came to fan reaction to Ludvig Borga. A skilled athlete and power-lifter he may well have been, but he was unable to connect to any great extent with the WWF faithful. Perhaps, however, they just weren’t so wound up about attacks on the country’s environmental policies as Vince McMahon hoped.


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


11 thoughts on “Well That Didn’t Work: Ludvig Borga

  1. I remembered Borga when I was 12 and I found him to be boring. I remember that match with Tatanka being a bad moment. Especially in how he pinned Tatanka to end the streak which sucked. He just put his finger on him, 1-2-3 and that was it. Insulting.

    Meekmahan needs to stop with this “America is the best country in the world” mentality and patriotism. Especially as the rest of the world sees America as a laughing stock and know that we’re in deep shit considering that we’re about to embark on an era of Fascism.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Another one of Vinnie Mac’s ideas that you really have to shake your head at and think, exactly how would people boo someone going on about the environment? Which has nothing to do with wrestling.

    Which isn’t helped by the fact Ludwig was so boring to watch in the ring. There was nothing about him that made you want to watch him.

    It’s a complete example of how Vinnie is stuck in the 80’s and has never grown out of it. Jinder Mahal on the heel side is the modern day example of Vince’s line of thinking on booking and writing characters remains stuck in the 80’s mindset. John Cena and the way Roman was written and booked for the last four years on the face are the defined examples of this.

    Hell Michael Cole is exactly Vince’s line of thinking on what a commentator should be like since Vince himself was the same week in week out when he did Raw during the mid 90’s, getting moves wrong. Complete monotone and more concerned on other stuff than just calling the match.

    It’s why the main roster is so pale in comparison to nxt, where characterization, motivation, booking and so on are so much more detailed, modern and get what it’s audience is looking for.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Tony Halme seemed like a can’t miss prospect. Couldn’t work, but that didn’t stop others like him making it big. I think he was one who needed to be in the ring with folks who could carry him. On the other hand, wow, was not aware that Finland was our mortal enemy back then. Guess I wasn’t watching the news as much as I thought I did. And yes, why exactly are we supposed to hate a man who wants clean air and drinking water?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Borga also appeared in a bunch of movies in the mid-90s, usually as a random goon, most notably Die Hard With A Vengeance, and the low budget live-action adaptation of the anime Fist Of The North Star which also featured Leon White AKA Vader!

    And the reason Luger didn’t work out was not because the audience didn’t care about America vs foreigner storylines, it’s because nobody gave a crap about Luger himself, especially since his patriotic turn was sudden and nonsensical after a -rather terrible- heel run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember hearing stories that Leon and Ludvig did not get along at all, and argued as to who was really tougher. It didn’t get physical from what I hear, but man, that would have been brutal. Another problem that Lex had with the fans was that he got the rep as the man who would never get the “big win.” When he finally does win the top title in WCW, it’s not for the Big Gold Belt that we all knew, nor is it taken from Ric Flair, it’s this new belt and comes via a win over Barry Windham. Then in the WWF after all the hype, all the build, he does beat Yokozuna, but in a way that leaves him without the belt. UGH.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dunno, but it would’ve been interesting to hear Bret cut a promo about how as much as he respects Finland and all its cultures, he won’t stand for Borga’s bully-boy ways.

        From there, the two have a match, Bret makes Borga tap out to the Sharpshooter, and the former Viking is outta the WWF and back to Herb Abrams’ UWF in time for Blackjack Brawl against Cowboy Bob Orton.

        Like

  5. At one point, WWE was planning to do WWE Champion Ludwig Borga vs. Lex Luger at WrestleMania X. Of course Vince then lost his interest in Luger and Borga ended up leaving the company. Thank God.

    Like

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