The Five Count: Needlessly Specific Gimmicks

Jamie Lithgow

An intricate backstory is a feature of many wrestling gimmicks. For example, as a child Kane was accused of starting the fire which killed his and The Undertaker’s parents, only it was actually started by a young Undertaker. This incident was the central focus of their initial feud and also facilitated Taker’s subsequent heel turn. However, in today’s Five Count, Jamie looks at wrestlers to have been afforded similarly specific details in their backstories but for no apparent reason or payoff.


Which one of these guys has partied with Nikki Sixx and why should we care?

What do we recall about the late Andrew ‘Test’ Martin’s WWE run? Most famously he was Stephanie McMahon’s on-screen fiancé, before she got hit by a bin and turned into an evil bitch of course. He was a member of the T&A tag team (with Matt ‘Albert’ Bloom) which launched Trish Stratus’ career. He also tagged and feuded with Scott Steiner, held every mid-card WWE title possible, wrestled in WWE’s version of ECW and dated Stacy Keibler (on and off screen). Before all of this though, Test was a member of The Corporation as their ‘Hired Gun’. This essentially equated to being a generic henchman for The Corporate Team. But where did he come from, what was his story? Most of us were happy with Test just being a generic big man that looked vaguely like Kevin Nash who would eventually flourish into a more developed character at some point. However, in the interests of unnecessary character depth, WWE gave us more details about him than we actually required. The seeds for Test’s debut in December of 1998 – where he helped The Rock defeat Triple H – were sewn a couple of months before. On the October 25th episode of Sunday Night Heat, Test played the part of bodyguard/roadie for Mötley Crüe, who were performing on the show. Test was seen (and heard) briefly testing the microphones and later the cameras captured him removing a rowdy ‘fan’ from the stage. For months after his official debut in December, Michael Cole would remind us that Test was the former bodyguard of Mötley Crüe despite it having no bearing on anything he did. It’s not like he was presented as buddies with the band because they never appeared on WWE TV again. He never even so much as wore a Mötley Crüe t-shirt. I guess the only purpose this little backstory had was to explain his name. He was called Test because he said “test… test” when he was, erm, testing the band’s microphones. Again, I was happy to just assume the name meant he would ‘test’ his opponents because that makes more sense.


So many questions…

Golga, the member of The Oddities who could actually wrestle. Most of you will already know that under Golga’s mask was John ‘Earthquake’ Tenta. Out with kayfabe, there was a simple reason why Golga wore a mask; because everybody would recognise him as Earthquake. That begs the question; why did he not just use the Earthquake gimmick? Well, apparently that was because he had lost quite a bit of weight and WWE did not think that gimmick would make much sense anymore. Anyway, within the realms of kayfabe, Golga’s backstory was that he had some sort of disfigurement on his head or face, hence he wore a mask to hide it. Essentially, he wore a mask for the same reason that Kane originally wore a mask. However, unlike Kane, this never played any part in a storyline or even in a match. Not once did anybody try to unmask the Eric Cartman fanatic, which was another obscure element to the Golga character that never really went anywhere. Sticking the dude in a mask is fine, but don’t tell us that he’s hiding something we’ll never see.


The fucking state of this idiot. Your name is Zodiac not Zebra

You had to figure WCW would feature somewhere in this post and equally it was a safe bet that Brutus The Fucking Barber Beefcake would also show up. Of all of his 576 gimmicks, this one mystified me the most, and that’s not to say that the others did not raise questions of their own. For example, The Disciple appeared to be a biker yet never once rode a bike. Anyway, back to Zodiac and I’ve included him because the gimmick was rather specific but extremely vague at the same time. He was a staple of the disastrously bad Dungeon of Doom stable in the mid-90s and was introduced by ‘The Master’ as having fought the light and fought the dark, whatever that means. As for the name, ‘Zodiac’, you might assume that he practised Astrology? Had star signs on his gear? Cut mysterious promos predicting the future? Nope, he was just some mad bastard in black and white face paint that only ever “yes!”, “no!” or “yes! No!”. That said, surely WCW had some fun with a guy that could only say “yes” or “no”? Surely Hulk Hogan or Macho Man managed to get some information out of him by asking him yes/no questions? That would at least have been a fun way to use a crap gimmick but that didn’t happen. Even more annoying is that Zodiac did turn out to be a ‘mole’ in the Dungeon of Doom and was on Hogan’s side all along. However, rather than use any plot devices or utilise Zodiac’s yes/no gimmick, this information was just revealed by commentators to explain why Ed ‘Zodiac’ Lesley had suddenly become The Bootyman character instead.

Blood Runs Cold

Meanwhile, in Outworld.

Blood Runs Cold, what was that I hear you ask? That would be the tagline given to the feud involving Glacier, Mortis, Wrath and Ernest Miller in WCW. There was quite a bit happening in WCW during 1996 and 1997, most of it New World Order or Sting related. However, there was the odd exception and this Mortal Kombat inspired feud was one of those. For all the shit that Glacier gets, at least his gimmick was relatively well defined. He was a martial arts expert that had studied in Japan and the fancy get-up he wore (including his helmet) was centuries old and given to him by his teacher. However, what the hell was with the ice gimmick? Stepping out with kayfabe and we all know that Glacier was a Sub-Zero rip-off and WCW was just trying to cash-in on the popularity of Mortal Kombat. However, back into the realms of kayfabe and it was never actually explained why this martial arts expert was so, erm, cold. Then we got Mortis, a supposedly Asian pit fighter managed by James Vandenberg. Okay, fair enough I guess but what was with the staff, cape, mask and the rest of the Mortal Kombat gear? Mortis was Glacier’s nemesis, but WCW forgot to tell us why, just that they didn’t like each other for some reason. We then got Wrath, a larger, unmasked version of Mortis only with no backstory at all. He was aligned with Vandenberg and Mortis, Finally, Ernest Miller was thrown into the mix as an ally of Glacier because, well, why not? These characters were brought into the company with a pre-existing animosity towards each other, they all looked like Mortal Kombat characters and all seemed to be proficient in the martial arts. However, nobody ever explained why and eventually they just stopped being booked against each other and the feud ended with no real conclusion or explanation.

The Sultan

If you don’t like your gimmick speak now or forever hold your peace.

The Sultan aka Headshrinker Fatu aka ‘Make A Difference’ Fatu aka Rikishi aka The Usos’ dad. After the towel was finally thrown in on the extremely corny ‘Make A Difference’ Fatu character he was repackaged. Now, if a WWE gimmick was considered to be lame in 1995 then it must have been bad. So, you would like to think that Fatu was repackaged as something a little more cutting-edge, more modern, more relatable; nope. Instead, they stuck him under a mask, made him a stereotypical Middle Eastern character and called him The Sultan. To top it off, he was given Bob Backlund – for some reason – and The Iron Sheik – obviously – as managers/handlers. To hide the fact that this Middle Eastern heel was actually a Samoan former tag team champion, he was given a mask to wear. Famously, the mask had a pony tail attached to it and whenever an opponent would pull the fake hair the whole mask could be seen pulling away from The Sultan’s bald head. Also, again to hide our man’s identity, The Sultan never spoke. He was just a mysterious warrior from an unspecified country somewhere in Asia. Considering his lowly spot on the card, one would have assumed this to be enough of a gimmick to get by with. Oh no, rather than just be a wrestler that doesn’t speak, of which there have been plenty over the years, an explanation was actually provided for The Sultan’s lack of verbal skills; he didn’t have a tongue! We were never given a reason as to why he had no tongue – despite Jerry Lawler occasionally making up theories – and it never played a part in any match he had. Some fun could have been had with The Sultan in an ‘I Quit’ match but instead nothing ever really came of the wrestler with no tongue.

This post was brought to you by Jobber Clobber

Jobber Clobber is Jamie’s screen printing start-up. He specialises in geeky wrestling related t-shirts so if you enjoy Ring The Damn Bell you’ll love Jobber Clobber. You can find him on eBay, Etsy, Instagram and Facebook. Don’t be shy, give it a ‘like’ and help to spread the word.

One thought on “The Five Count: Needlessly Specific Gimmicks

  1. You could go on for hours and hours pointing out all of the needlessly specific gimmicks or plot holes in wrestling storylines, lol. This was a lot of fun to read, thanks!


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